I think one of the most difficult parts about becoming a widow (besides the obvious), especially in the beginning, is the process of coming to terms with the fact that the unthinkable is not only thinkable, but it has happened…
And it has happened. to. you.
In a matter of what seems like minutes, you go from standing on the safety of the sidelines with thoughts like I don’t know what I’d do if that’d ever happened to us… or I don’t know what I’d do without you, and are thrown into the middle of your worst nightmare. In that moment when reality hits, it is excruciatingly difficult…because all you want to do is jump back into that giant bubble of ignorant bliss…You want to go back to those sidelines where bad things happen to other people…To a place where nightmares don’t come true.
But then you roll over in bed and feel the cold, empty space that used to hold your world, and you quickly remember that that place no longer exists. And you begin to question if there was ever any safety in the sidelines or if you were just blind.
Then comes the transformation of identity.
Wife to widow.
Parent to single widowed parent.
Homeowner to shared home with parents.
Stay at home mom to full time student, and eventually sole breadwinner.
Whatever it may be.
When it comes to widowhood, each of our experiences are different, but being forced into a life without our partner causes many unforeseen shifts in identity.
When you choose forever with somebody, you map out what you hope your future looks like. From something as simple as making a grocery list together to plan weekly meals, to buying a house. Or changing jobs. Or expanding your family. When your heart chooses someone, you are ultimately entwining futures. Roles are established…plans are made, and life together becomes as natural as breathing.
So it’s no mystery that widowhood destroys it all.
No longer are you able to envision that future that seemed so certain…And you are left with one painstaking question…
What do I do now?
Almost seventeen months in, I feel myself changing on a daily basis. My identity shifts with every breath I take. I keep busy. I keep really busy…and some days, I barely can grasp the fact that my life hasn’t always been like this. I was a wife. I had an amazing husband. We had a house. We had a plan… And now I have had to create a new plan. Honestly, I don’t even like calling it a plan. Plans assume that things are going to go a certain way…And I have learned in the most brutal way ever that plans fall through…So now I dream, and I hope for the best.
I work towards those dreams as a single, widowed mother who wants to give my son the life he deserves despite the fact that he has faced the biggest loss of his life at the tender age of 3 years old. I work towards those dreams as a full time student who is eager to get back out into the workforce…As a woman who is desperate for her independence and for the day I can unlock the front door of our own home again. I work towards those dreams as a girl whose heart is broken because she lost the boy she thought she was going to grow old with…But I am learning that hearts never break beyond repair…because despite the pain in losing Nate, love doesn’t destroy anything. It can build you back up, if you allow it to…So I work towards those dreams as a woman who hopes that each crack in her heart mends with a renewed strength that encourages her to want to open it again to someone, someday.
Widowhood destroys plans but ignites the power to hope.
So I don’t make plans anymore. The above are dreams. They are my hopes for the future. Because sometimes all we have left is hope…and sometimes hope is all we need.