My early days of widowhood were filled with numbness as I worked through processing Bryon’s death as well as the death of all our dreams. I am one of those people who likes to have some idea of what will happen in the future like a tentative 5 year, 10 year and 20 year plan. I am not good at flying by the seat of my pants. I know that things can change but I was certain that Bryon, our daughter and the child we planned on having later were going to be there. When Bryon was sick, I knew that it was possible that if he survived (which I believed he was going to) that he was probably going to have long term health problems that would have altered our plans. But he was going to be there. We would figure the rest out.
Then one day he was gone and so were our dreams. The family of three (with plans to be four) had become a family of two. And I have gotten used to the fact that that will be our future. My daughter, me and our cat. Maybe I will get her a dog to make up for the fact that she won’t ever have a brother or sister. I am trying to reconstruct new dreams.
I have been shifting from feeling of numbness due to his absence in our daily life to reflecting on our life together.
I never really been one to date. I didn’t have a serious boyfriend until my senior year in college. He was the complete opposite of Bryon. We dated for almost three years even though he didn’t really put much effort into our relationship. At the time, I thought that it was love and left the relationship unimpressed with the whole concept of love. It definitely was not like the love I had seen in the movies. I don’t think he was a bad guy, he just did not seem to have much passion with me or for anything else.
All my life I had kept people at a distance. I never let anyone get too close and can be quite stand-offish at times. This probably factored into the reason why I never dated much. I never liked letting my guard down. It is much easier to not let people get close instead of opening yourself up and potentially getting hurt. I spent my 20’s immersed in Maine Republican politics and the politics of the Young Republican National Federation. While part of me enjoyed some superficial male attention, I really wasn’t that interested in letting anyone into my own world and exposing myself to potential hurt. As a result, I probably denied myself a lot of happiness during that decade.
All that changed in the winter of 2008. I was still living in Maine and I had traveled to Albany, NY for a leadership conference put on by the New York State Young Republicans. I was feeling more social than usual that weekend and I chatted with several charming gentlemen. I must have made quite an impression on a certain younger gentlemen who stood next to me all evening at the bar and kept buying me drinks. This younger gentleman brought me back to my hotel. I started to get nervous because I felt that this younger gentleman was interested in me and I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. I started to stress our age difference because he would surely lose interest if he knew how old I was. He said he didn’t believe I was that old so I took out my driver’s license and said “That’s a ‘7’ not an ‘8’.” He looked at it with complete disbelief and said that that can’t be right. I said. “Oh, yes it is. I was born during the Carter Administration.”
The fact that I was born in the 1970’s (albeit late 1970’s) and that I am old enough to remember Ronald Reagan actually being president did not deter this young gentlemen. For the next several months he showered me with attention on google chat and Facebook. While I enjoyed the attention, I tried to discourage his advances. He was too young. Why on Earth would he want to date an old lady like me?
I didn’t make it easy for him but Bryon eventually wore me down. Our attraction was just too strong and it was just meant to be. And to this day, I have no idea what he saw in me. What made me special? No man had ever made an effort to romance me or make me feel special but Bryon did. What was it about me that made him think I was worth the trouble?
He was the first person I truly let get close to me. This scared me and I am ashamed to say that I would test him even though I don’t think I did it intentionally. I just thought he was too good to be true and that he would surely lose interest in me. Friends used to always say that I was a saint for putting up with his mischievous antics but he was just as much as a saint for putting up with me. I wasn’t always a picnic to deal with. I have no idea why I couldn’t just accept that a great guy like Bryon would love me.
I just think about how he used to look at me during those romantic dinners, like I was the only girl in the room. Or how he listened to every silly story I told on our first date. I think about how sappy he got right before he proposed to me at Mahars and how happy he looked when I walked down the aisle on our wedding day. I think about how excited he would get when I would say a one-liner that made him laugh. He would reiterate to me that he was the funny one but once in awhile I can be really funny too. I think about all the times he told me I was beautiful and all the times I got mad at him because I didn’t believe I was deserving of that compliment.
I think I am beginning to enter what I am thinking of as the Mopey Love Song Phase. In the earlier days of widowhood, my sadness felt raw and intense but it still felt like an external feeling that I could fight off. My sadness doesn’t feel as raw or intense now but it feels deeper and more internalized. It is like the sadness has actually become a physical part of me and I accept that it is now a part of me. The emptiness sits like a big pit in my stomach and radiates through my bones.
Now that I am getting over the shock of Bryon being gone, I am bombarded with memories and trying to process the emotions that go along with all of those memories. Our love story is played over and over again in my head. I tear up to think that as we were living our lives and making memories, we never knew that we weren’t going to get many years. And there never would have been no way to know.