“Firsts.” Such a loaded word for widows.
My first time introducing myself on here… I am Elizabeth Dreier, forever a wife to my beloved Simon; mother to my son who inherited his parent’s love for calf roping and all things rodeo; mother to my daughter who is a champion rower like me; I’m the daughter of a hairdresser and appointed Federal official; I’m the daughter-in-law of a soon-to-be Congressional official.
I am Elizabeth Dreier; widow, nurse, licensed pilot, photographer, observant Reform Jew, solo parent, wannabe Pinterest mom, coffee snob, Target shopping professional, former Miss (enter state here)… My list of labels could go on and on. The one that sticks out the most, though, is “widow.” The one that sticks out the most is the one I never wanted.
In early 2009, my beloved Simon took his life.
He suffered intractable pain from a car accident and couldn’t live with it anymore. We had his sperm frozen because I battled ovarian cancer at a young age. We knew we wanted children, but we didn’t know if I’d be able to carry them. After Simon’s death, I used his frozen sperm for IUI and conceived a gorgeous son who’s the spitting image of his Daddy. Two years later, I did the same thing and had a daughter who may as well be my twin with her icy eyes and white-blonde hair.
My children know the truth about their father’s death. I don’t believe in hiding it from them. They will know sooner or later and I don’t want them to resent me for lying about it. I’ve shared the age-appropriate details and when they’re old enough, I’ll tell them the whole story. The children have seen my darkest moments; anger, sadness, loneliness, anxiety. They also see my brightest moments; understanding, joy, pride, healing, hope, faith, love.
I met Simon when I was three. He was my first date, first kiss, first love. We married as soon as I was 18 and the four years we shared as husband and wife were what I refer to as my Glory Days. It’s been ten long, painful years without my darling Simon.
I swore I’d never love again…
But when Simon’s best friend lost his wife to the same cancer I survived, there was sort of an unspoken bond there. I grew up in a family of politicians and married into a family of politicians, so I suppose it’s only fitting that I’m dating one. We’ll call him Mr. Smith.
It has been almost a year for Mr. Smith and me, and it’s been an adventure. Sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes a straight line. As a nurse, I know the trite saying, “if there are no ups and downs, your heart is not beating.” I roll my eyes at that because I’m bitter and I can admit that I’m bitter. Yes, I’ve learned to love again, but I still want my Simon back.
Mr. Smith also has two children, approximately the same age as mine. They adore each other and they’re happy to see their parents happy. I’m a long, long way from being ready to be Mrs. Anything again, but having a lover, friend, and partner who “gets” me is a gift I cherish and thank my God for daily. We like to believe Mr. Smith’s wife and my Simon are happy looking down upon us being happy again, ourselves.
I hate to say “moving on” because a piece of my heart will always be only Simon’s…
But I’m getting comfortable with “life goes on”… Because it’s true. The world will never stop spinning for my broken heart, my babies will always need their Mama, and a decade later I’ve realized something: I deserve happiness, too. I’ve realized it’s not an indication of the depth of my love for Simon if I love someone else. So that’s where I’m at and that’s what I’m doing.
Ten years on, I feel like Elizabeth again…
I know Simon is so joyful for that. He is proud of me, our children, and the way I’ve survived with grace and grit. If I can do this, you can do this, too.