A widow friend of Rob’s posted a valid criticism of the phrase “Different is just different” today. In the beginning, and for a while after, comparing now and then is something you spend a lot of time doing. Then is a wonderful whitewashed place where you lived in Shangri-La like bliss with your late spouse. Everything was easy and more than a little like Lake Woebegone – above average. And we all do it because it is easier to pretend that we had the mythically perfect marriage than to admit it wasn’t or that what we had was a product of sweat and maybe tears and certainly would have made for better reality television than 1950’s family sitcom. It’s an effective strategy for preventing the inevitable forward momentum that takes hold of your life and moves you on – willing or not.
Comparisons to then and now. Then wins hands down in the beginning because there is little worse than grief when it is as fresh as a newly acquired paper cut.
My life has been different for a long time. Five years actually. It’s been five years. And if I am to be truthful, things were not perfect before that really. Will and I had a good marriage, but it took time and effort to make it so.
My life now is different from a year ago or even six months ago. In June it will be different again. And different is just different, but it is also pretty darn good. Not just because of Rob either. Finding love does not cure you of widowhood. That is one of the more annoying fallacies that many of my fellow widowed believe. That because I am engaged to be married this June, I am suddenly “okay” and that I no longer grieve. Not true. What I do have is a much better sense of who I am and what I want for myself, and my child, and that I am discovering more about myself and my strengths and limitations every day.
Rob’s older daughter worries that he and I might not be emotionally solid enough to know what we are doing. Marrying so soon. I can’t speak for him, but I am far more aware of the enormity of what I am doing now than I was back then. I know now what “in sickness and in health” is really asking of me and what “til death do you part” feels like. I know how important time spent with your husband is and why you can never say “I love you” often enough.
Could I have discovered a deeper sense of self with Will? It’s possible. Would I have the insight I have now into relationships and marriage? Perhaps. I know that way back then I was content and contentment isn’t the best soil for sustained growth.
My different is good. Very good. But it is just different. It wouldn’t be fair to then or now to compare.