I always envisioned being a widow to being someone that was my grandmother’s age. My Grandma Sullivan was widowed in 1990 at the age of 76 after 44 years of marriage. (My Grandma Sullivan passed away in 2004 at the age of 90) My Nana Crowley was widowed in 2007 at the age of 84 after 63 years of marriage. (My Nana Crowley is still alive and will turn 95 later this month) Both of my grandmothers lived or are living the life that you would imagine of a widow. They play/played Bingo. They both socialized. Both of my grandmothers have/had large social networks and lots of friends. Both of my grandmothers doted on their grandchildren (and in Nana’s Crowley’s case, great-grandchildren.)
My experience has been different. I became widowed in 2016 at the age of 37 a month shy of our 4th wedding anniversary. The last time I played Bingo was on a cruiseship with Bryon. And instead of doting on grandchildren or great-grandchildren, I am taking care of a 2-year-old daughter.
The thing about being widowed, especially at a young age, is that you are not quite married and you are not quite single. I am no longer married but I don’t feel single. I still can’t bring myself to take off my rings. I didn’t ask to be here and I don’t want to be here. It’s like I am in limbo between the two. I liked being a wife. I was pretty good at it. Turns out I am really good at the “in sickness and in health” part. I used to listen to my single friends talk about their adventures and mis-adventures in dating and I remember feeling relieved because I was happily married and I wasn’t going to ever have to worry about dating ever again.
The one question I get asked the most since becoming a widow is if I ever plan on remarrying. I don’t blame people for being curious. I would be curious if I weren’t me. Neither of my grandmother’s remarried but they were much older than me. They don’t make a good point of reference to me. To be honest, if you asked me that question every day, the answer would probably be different depending on the day. What can I say? I am full of contradictions these days.
Some days I am optimistic that I may love again. It is referred to as “Chapter 2” in the widow world. I am a romantic at heart and don’t want to believe that my love story is finished. I do think my heart will be capable of loving again and some days I hope I do love gain. I still feel like I have love to give. I also to hope that I will experience being loved again. I don’t think to date again or marry again is a betrayal to him. I truly think Bryon wants me to be happy. Bryon will always have a piece of my heart but I do think the heart is capable of growing and loving again.
However, on other days I am depressed and I feel that no man would ever love me like Bryon did and I will never have what Bryon and I had. Of course, I forget that trauma and loss change you, permanently and forever. I am not the same carefree, naive person I used to be and I never will be. That version of myself went away when Bryon got sick and she died when Bryon died. So even if I found Bryon’s clone with the same personality, it probably wouldn’t work. I have changed. But I think about the way Bryon used to look at me. Will I ever find someone who will look at me the same way?
At times I don’t think I will ever remarry because I am not good at dating. Good at being a wife, yes. Good at dating, no. I don’t even know where single people who are closing in their late 30’s go in Albany and even if I did know, where would I find the time? I am busy enough with my daughter and work. Also, Bryon was very well known and popular in our town and will I always be looked at as his widow and not as my own person? And I am not sure anyone would want to date me knowing that Bryon will always have a piece of my heart and I will always love him.
I don’t know what the future will bring. None of us do. I don’t know when I will be ready to date again, if ever. Right now I am still in pain from Bryon’s death and I miss him too much. Plus, I am still learning how to be a working single mom. But the one thing I will say with certainty is that if I start dating again, I won’t be sharing it here. I am very open about my grief but I feel some things are meant to be private.