I started up a conversation with her. She was pleasant to speak with and I immediately felt at ease. We introduced ourselves, throwing out the common formalities…where we lived, what we did for work, how many kids we each had and their ages. I added a few bits of information about my husband. She echoed me with her own biographic details, leaving out a description of any significant other.
Absentmindedly, I asked her if she was married. She replied that she once had been married, but that her late husband had left her a widow. Suddenly feeling sorry that I had asked the question, I metaphorically stuffed my foot in my mouth. I quickly offered her my condolences. She laughed, “Don’t feel sorry for me hon. It is better that way.” I nodded, honestly a bit confused.
“When did he die?” I asked.
“Oh,” she patted my hand comfortingly. “My dear, he’s not dead. He just isn’t in my life anymore. He is still very much alive.” Now I was superbly perplexed.
“But I thought you said that he was your late husband? Doesn’t late, mean that he is dead? If he is alive, wouldn’t you use the words, my ex-husband?” She laughed again.
“Honey, I even call him my late husband, to his face. He knows that when he left, that I closed that chapter of my life. He is no ex. He will always be my husband. I will always love him. We are just better apart. Because of this, there is no use for me to live in the past. We were married, he left, now I am a widow.” I marveled at her unique perception of her situation.
Seeing her again the other day, got me thinking about my own life. I too, am a widow. I just happen to still be married to my late husband. He is very much alive. I see him everyday. We are married, but unfortunately he is hardly ever there in spirit, even when he is bodily there in person. He wakes, goes to work and comes home invisible.
A single mother, I live perpetually on my own island, alone.
Being a married widow, I handle all the responsibilities of a household, motherhood, the workforce, chauffeuring, errands, homework, bills, etc…etc…but I also have to continually carry the sign that says, “I’m married and don’t need any help from others, because my husband will take care of me.” Sigh, big fake SMILE.
Wouldn’t a lost sheep that was found by another be taken in and cared for? A branded one would be returned to its owner though, with no questions asked. What if the sheep had run for help?
So I climb the stairs each day to walk my widow’s walk. I wait and watch for my husband to come home. Maybe someday his ship will come sailing into the harbor. Until that day, I will grieve my loss, think well of my late husband and then move on. The daily tasks greet me each morning. Maybe it is better this way.