Archive of ‘Relationships’ category

I Wish I Were Phillip’s Wife, Not John’s Widow

By Michelle Miller

I used to love a boy named Phillip. He was nineteen and I was twenty-one. It was 2004 and we were both addicts together. He of drugs that had slangs I had never even heard of, and I of loveless sex and sexless love. It was a hot month both literally and figuratively. Summer had come early and we found ourselves in the month of March skinny dipping a lot after midnight in the pool at my apartment complex.  

 

He would say things to me like, “Let’s pretend we are in love” while we danced naked in my living room to Kenny Chesney. “Let’s actually be in love,” I would respond, like the good little love junkie I was. And then we would smile and do things to and with each other that I cannot write about in this blog without an X-Rated label. In all my memories of Phillip, it was always nighttime and the moon was always full. 

 

And then I met John. My future husband. My future adulterous husband. My future adulterous dead husband.  

 

For a whole week, I loved John and Phillip both. Both wanted to marry me. Being at the top of a love triangle was the most awake I’d ever been. What’s precious to me now about this time in my life, is the optimism and simplicity of how we three viewed marriage. They loved me, I loved them so obviously marriage was the next step. No one bothered to ask each other anything logical like what their credit scores were, if they had any medical conditions or you know, what their last names were. We, like most adults in their infancy, made all our decisions based on intuition, and feelings, and hormones….logic be damned! 

 

After that one hot month and that one hot week, John told me to choose. I chose him without hesitation….intuition and feelings, and hormones be damned! Logic had won and Phillip had lost. I patted myself on the back for being a ‘real’ grown up. Phillip was devastated. He showed up that night at 3am on my door step crying and telling me he loved me. Yep, Phillip was crazy, this act of passion had confirmed, and John was not crazy. He was not a drug addict. He was too ridged to skinny dip, and too practical to dance naked. John was the good choice.  

 

Ten years almost exactly to the date that I chose John over Phillip, John would be crying and telling me he loved me as he shot himself. 

 

I didn’t immediately think of Phillip that night; I didn’t immediately think of anything other than our children that night, but months later I would find myself searching Instagram for Phillip. I realize now that I wasn’t searching just for him though, I was searching for a piece of myself that had been lost ten years ago, and another piece that had been lost when John fired that gun, and all the pieces of my younger self that I had been lost in between the ten-year gap of Phillip and widowhood. 

 

Instagram would tell me that Phillip was now married with three daughters. All of them had his blue eyes and their mother’s brown curls. It would tell me that he was sober, in love with his wife, had a stable job, and loved to barbeque. Instagram would tell me that I should’ve chosen Phillip. 

 

I realize saying this makes me a bad widow and an even worse mother, but there you have it: regret. Who would I be today if I’d chosen Phillip? Certainly not this broken, anxiety-ridden, bitter, pessimistic, bitch that everyone loves to be entertained by on social media. I would be in a kitchen somewhere in Texas preparing side dishes to go with Phillip’s barbeque with my hope and my faith and my innocence still intact. 

 

I don’t care if the person I am and the place I am at in my life is amazing right now-and yes, my life here in San Diego is amazing-I don’t want it. What it has taken to get me here, to get me to be the person who lives a life so boldly with her best friend and their five children by the beach, is not worth the suffering that got me here.  

 

I’d rather be Phillip’s wife, not John’s widow. 

 

But soon I wont want this. You see, its 4am as I write this and I know that this regret, (like my capacity to love a man) will not last; it comes and it goes as mysteriously as my joy. My kids will be up soon with their little drool-incrusted faces and hair like mine, that is ratted and has a mind of its own. We’ll fill our day up with appointments and work and arguing over who left their cereal bowl in the sink, and in the midst of me caving in and scrubbing the damn cereal bowl myself, I will wonder how I got to be so very fortunate to have this life. Tonight Lynnette and I will have a few glasses of wine on our backyard palette couch that we built ourselves and laugh about the arbitrary things that made up our day.   

 

I will go to bed not regretting one single choice I ever made because what John gave to me was equal to what he took from me, and I will be so content and full of wine.

What July Means to Me

By John Polo

My birthday month.

Sometimes fun.

And sometimes tough.

It was the summer of 2002.

We started dating in June.

July, the month I fell in love with you.

After one year together, and eight long years apart.

We started talking again via email and text.

We knew right away. Always in each others heart.

But then one day, out of the blue, you butt dialed me.

July 21st.

My birthday.

It was your voice.

It was you.

Fast forward, to 2012.

A decade in the making.

I got on one knee, and asked if we could be wed.

You said yes, as I read the letter that I wrote.

‘We’re getting married John!!!’ the words that you so happily spoke.

Everything was perfect.

It was all meant to be.

July 15th,  one year later.

‘There is a large mass on your kidney’.

They ran a bunch of tests, and then confirmed.

July 22nd.

‘It’s cancer. Stage 4.’

Those were the words that we heard.

We rushed to the courthouse, to become man and wife.

You were so sick.

The reality of our new life.

Five days later, July 31st.

I had to say Goodbye to you. For the first time.

Eight hours later you woke up.

Cancer free.

And still mine.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

 

 

 

 

 

What Really Matters Now?

By Wendy Simpson

What really matters?

I’ve asked this a hundred times over the last 3 years since my husband’s diagnosis of cancer.

Before he passed, in the early stages of cancer diagnosis shock, what mattered was fighting it. Our lives were consumed with appointments and treatments and side effects. I didn’t even think of sadness or defeat.  We focused on victory and being warrior strong.  Oh we loved each other and what mattered was fighting the enemy, the big “C”.  Then came the big “T” the word “terminal.”  What mattered shifted to making time slow down, still fighting but the enemy was now… time, and somehow we needed to make every second count.  Life became more and more precious as we had long conversations without words. Then suddenly, there was our last dance and good bye. All that mattered left with my beloved that day. And, for a long time, nothing mattered.

It was in this dark place of death, that I saw what I couldn’t see in the light of life.  I saw how precious and life-giving relationships were.  In the midnight of my loss the lights of frienship and sisterhood stood out more intensely.  It was as if God had placed beautiful night lights along the path I must walk, so that, even in the deepest darkness of my grief I’d see a way through it all.  In the valley of the shadow of death, I was not alone.

So… what matters now?

I am asking that question again… it’s been 2 and half years since my beloved husband and I had our last dance and I saw him into heaven.  I’d have to say, along with the beautiful relationships God’s given me, I’d add…  purpose to what matters.  We do not find purpose alone.  Purpose is in the moment you reach out into the stories and lives of sisters and friends.  It’s looking into their eyes and seeing their heart.  When someone took the time to look into my eyes, see my heart and hear my grief… I mattered.  And… when I mattered… I had purpose…  and meant something to someone.

It’s when I realized that God gave me life so I could speak life into someone else that this journey mattered.  It’s when I could stand in the gap for someone hurting and pray for them that I found the ache of my grief lessen.  It still aches terribly, but I have hope, that one day it will soften.

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A Widow’s Reflection on Weddings and Dating

By Sabra Robinson

I finally did it. I attended a wedding. And … it was magical!

I wrote a blog last year during the holidays about my issue with attending weddings. Attending weddings for me was non-existent. My fear was powerful…until now.

I’ve documented my experience below as a follow-up to my article: An African-American Widow’s Battle with Holiday Wedding Invites: Is Your Struggle Real, Too?

I hope this encourages someone as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Wedding ‘Date’

It’s hard to put into words how I was feeling on this day. It was Saturday, April 15, 2017. I was invited by a friend, my date, who is also considered one of the “fab five friends” of the groom. He had mentioned the wedding of his best friend in prior conversation and I inquired more. He was excited to go and I was excited for him. He took my excitement as an open invitation to probe. He asked.

I said yes…

For some reason, I knew it was the right moment, season, and time to attend my first wedding in five years since the death of my husband. I was in route to meet my date but I was late. Not intentionally, well maybe – well maybe not. I think deep down I was just a bit nervous. (I did stop on the way to grab a McDonald’s coffee, though). I was almost 30 minutes late meeting him at our meeting place prior to traveling to the wedding. He didn’t say anything when I arrived; he was cordial … and quiet. :-). He was a gentleman.

We walked into the wedding together. We weren’t late but the majority of guests had already arrived. Now mind you, we had to walk FACING the audience to get to our seats.

Lord, why me?!

It was in a gorgeous restaurant setting called Cafe Luna. The restaurant was closed just for the big day and it was well worth it. My date made introductions and I was very nervous. He asked if I was OK. I questioned him why. He said because I was twirling my fingers. I had not noticed.

Nervous?
No.
Anxious for it to be over?
Yes!

The Ceremony

It was a small and intimate wedding, no more than fifty guests. The ceremony itself lasted about 30 minutes. To my surprise, a portion of the wedding vows read by the pastor were also included in an inscription I had engraved on their wedding gift (I nominated myself to be the one to obtain the gift – I had to, with my date’s feedback, of course). As I sat there listening to the scriptures and readings of the pastor, the couple was engaged in eye to eye contact. Their love for one another was apparent.

It was a 1 Corinthians 13 kinda day.

David & Tracey Cook

Guests were cheerful, the food was tasty and the music, well let’s say it was a language that was rhythmic and performative. It was a harmonious language familiar to club dwellers of the Chicago, Detroit, DMV, New York and New Jersey belts amplified by legendary DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan and Baltimore’s own, the late Reggie Reg and a newbie to the scene years later (but gone too soon), DJ K-Swift. House music was the talk of the table and the tables were turning, I mean…the table I sat at consisted of fans of this urban electronic music who boasted about their younger years of club-hopping, attending Rutgers and family life. Feeling comfortable at this point, I spoke up. Besides, I knew the topics all too well. My guard was finally down and I endorsed myself to consume the ambiance of love, laughter, and liveliness of the special event.

Grief was not allowed nor was it welcomed.

I looked over at my date’s face and I saw a widower undefined by the event but defined by the harmony, love, and legacy of his fab-five brothers. It was a feeling I envied but understood.

Plus One

My date was such a gentleman that day and who was very much respected by his ‘fab five’ friends. As I sit here typing this, I cringe at the fact that I’m about to open up about my personal life at such detailed level. I’ve never done this before but I feel the need to. Why? Because there are others like me, in my position who are going through the emotional rollercoaster of attending weddings and dating while widowed. He was a special kind of date. Why?

Because … he’s a widower.

This was also his first wedding since his wife’s transition three years ago.

#DatingAWidower

I struggled with writing this portion but it so happened that a great article was posted in one of the Facebook widow forums that I co-manage, Black and Widowed: A Unique Journey. The article, Why Widows And Widowers Should Only Date Each Other, garnered much attention from widows and widowers in the group. Many provide their individual variations of their experiences, concerns, and expressions of how they view dating as a widow or widower:

I still find myself saying ‘we’ or ‘us’
I find it interesting dating divorced women. She talked about her ex-husband all the time
When I’m asked about my late wife I was told, ‘Oh, you’re still thinking about your late wife?’
As a widow with a 10-year-old, I’m clueless
I equate dating with a drunk guy on the dance floor
What’s the definition of dating?
I can’t recall what my husband and I did while dating. We met, fell in love and we were never apart … so, I have no idea.

Their replies are valid. Their concerns are understandable and their fears are relatable. I’ve been there. I’ve dated but they just couldn’t relate, until I met a widower.

My Hourglass

Well, there you have it; an hourglass reflection of what it’s been like for me on this journey. I’ve reached a milestone and I’m good now. I’ve even attended a wedding video viewing party just this past weekend! Yes, it was one of the weddings I skipped last year but the viewing party was even better! Although this type of event is new for me (never had one when I got married twenty-eight years ago), it was well worth the invite.

Talk to Me

Have you dated a widower or widow? What’s your experience attending weddings? Are you ready to date again?I’m curious to know so please chime in with your story. Do tell!

 

*Stay tuned for part 2, A Widow’s Continued Reflection on Weddings, Dating And Beyond

Read more of my writings over at blackwomenwidows.com