I first realized I had superpowers about two months after my husband’s death. I was out of state at a birthday party for a good friend whose other friends only knew me from a distance. Last they had seen me was years ago with my (alive) husband and our two children at a wedding.
Word spread quickly through the party that day that I was now widowed to (gasp!) suicide, after a party go-er casually asked me, “So where’s John at this weekend?” and I responded with, “In an urn in his parents living room…that’s where bad husbands who shoot themselves have to go.”
And gradually as the whispers and stares begin to increase (along with the vodka in my fruit punch), I felt a cold sensation ascend my body. I was morphing into: Wonder Widow, and my first super power was the cloak of invisibility. I think I even sprouted a cape…an invisible one of course.
No one could see me once they heard I was widowed, let alone talk to me and they liked it this way. I did not.
I proceeded to get drunk and talk to my reflection in the bathroom mirror every fifteen minutes or so for the remainder of that party. I don’t remember what I said to drunk Michelle, but I do remember feeling small that entire weekend and completely inhibited by my invisibility. I wanted so badly to be normal; to have normal conversations with The Norms (Norms:normal people living normal, non-traumatized lives), but I was no longer normal. I was Wonder Widow, able to repel humans and become invisible in two sentences or less!
As widowhood dragged on, the next superpower that was brought to my attention was flying; which wasn’t nearly as graceful or cool as it sounds because when Wonder Widow flies, she’s basically just catching air as she falls from the bar stool to the sticky, old-beer floor.
Worthless invisible cape.
Years went by with my superpowers overpowering me until I discovered the superpower that changed everything: My Super Strength.
It started slowly at first with the discovery that my ability to become invisible could be a good thing. The Norms didn’t want me around? Well good, I don’t want to be around them either! I began to use my super strength to take my power back as I dropped the widow bomb in conversations as early as possible with strangers to gauge if they were a Norm or a Cray (Cray: crazy, traumatized people with dark senses of humor). The Norms would thankfully make me invisible and the Cray’s would laugh at my dead husband jokes.
If I could use my widow super powers to weed out The Norms and create bonds with The Crays, what else could I do?
I could fly. Eloquently this time.
I realized this last Tuesday when I was flying down the Pacific Coast Highway with the windows rolled down and Courtney Love blaring on my car stereo. Courtney Love always makes me think of flying off of bar stools. Try as I might though, I could not recall the last instance in which I flew off a bar stool. As of late, I had been too busy soaring above my drunken depression and looking down at the buildings of my past traumas that seemed so very surmountable to me now. It was 78 degrees, not a cloud in sight, and the smell of the ocean intoxicated me. As I thought to myself, “I still can’t believe I get to live by the beach,” my cape not only became visible, but also became covered in glitter.
On that Tuesday, I was an eloquently flying Wonder Widow on a secret Wonder Widow mission.
The mission? Gumballs. Yes, I Wonder Widow, was following a guy around San Diego county who is selling me his Gum Ball machines. I really want to make a “ball” joke right now, but I wont because I am a fucking lady.
Why was I buying some guy’s gumball machines? Because widowhood is fucking weird, that’s why! Five years ago I was living in a tiny little desert town that no one has ever heard of, working a 9-5 with dreams of going to seminary and growing old with my husband. Now I am living in San Diego with my best friend, five kids, a dwarf bunny and a beta fish that has icks disease, with dreams of owning five-hundred gumball machines so that I never have to go back to working a 9-5 again.
If that’s not flying eloquently, I don’t know what the hell is.
Widowhood takes. It doesn’t care if you are down so low that you are buried; it will kick you anyway. It doesn’t care about your open wounds; it will salt them. Widowhood will take your power from you, and any power you do have, it will use it against you.
The power you once had over your emotions? Gone. The power you once had over how people perceived you? Gone. The power you once had to say no to that cocktail at 8am? Gone.
But once widowhood has beaten you down, broken you beyond recognition and unmercifully buried you under twenty-five tons of shit, you will be presented with a choice. You can go deeper, stay where you are at, or put on your damn cape and fly.
Living through widowhood means that you have been forced to hold your head up high among the whispers and stares. It means you have tied your toddlers shoes while crying. Widowhood means you have felt the physical weight of his old shirt at night as you sleep in it and you still kept right on breathing. Widowhood means you have carried his burdens and yours and possibly those of your children every damn day since you heard the words, “I’m sorry ma’am, he’s gone.”
Widowhood though, also means you have super strength. It’s there whether you have taped into it or not. Over time, you will have muscles the size of the universe that have been built over sleepless nights, and screams, and tears, and a necessity to survive. Flex them my little Wonder Widows! Thrive.