It finally happened. I’d read about it in some widow groups that I’m a member of, but had never personally experienced it myself. I’ve even had the audacity to think to myself, “Wow, these women know some really insensitive people!” And now, I stand corrected.
My wonderful neighborhood has a Facebook page that we all use to communicate with each other. Recently, one neighbor posted a picture of a beer, offering it to anyone who would be willing to come and remove a dead rat from the side of her house because her husband was away at work and it was foul smelling and attracting flies. Then, there it was. She ended her plea with a hashtag, which has become so commonplace now. But this hashtag stung – she referred to herself as a “job widow.”
Really? You’re going to call yourself a widow? You’re going to compare your husband being away at work temporarily to my husband’s body being buried in the ground permanently? You’re going to equate having to remove a dead rodent from your yard by yourself to everything I had to endure alone – like bringing my first child into this world – that should have been done with my husband and high school sweetheart by my side? Are you kidding me?!
This was my initial reaction. I was annoyed and offended. But then, I had a revelation.
This woman didn’t intend to hurt me. Hell, she doesn’t even know me or my story. And you know what else she doesn’t know? What it is really like to lose your husband when your life together is just beginning – and I am truly happy for her. Sincerely.
This incident caused me to reflect on my own behavior. How many times have I said something completely off base? How many times have I judged or assumed something I really had no clue about? How many times have I unintentionally offended or hurt another person through my innocent ignorance? I’m certain that I am guilty a hundred times over.
The path of widowhood is not an easy one, and it can’t be understood unless you’ve walked it with your own two feet. And you know what? I wouldn’t wish the pain I’ve had to endure on my worst enemy.
I AM a widow.
Yes, I’ve found love again and have rebuilt my life, but I will always be a widow. And while earning this title has been the most excruciatingly painful experience of my life, it has also molded me into a more understanding, more compassionate more grateful, more empathetic person.
So to my neighbor that I’ve barely even met: I know what it is to be alone many nights – first as a firefighter wife and then as a widow – and it royally sucks. I hope someone removed that smelly rat for you. And when your husband finally made it home, I hope you complained to him and nagged him but then welcomed him with a huge hug and a kiss.
And I hope you get to do that for many, many years to come.
From the bottom of my heart.