Dating While Widowed: On Giving Advice


Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Prudence over at The Slate received an email from a widower recently asking for insight into an issue he has with this girlfriend. Seems the girlfriend, in the opinion of the widower, is “touchy” about anything to do with his late wife and the fact that he is close to his in-laws.

Nothing surprising about that. If you haven’t been widowed yourself, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that widowed folk really don’t go through the same separation process that one does when a relationship ends in a mutual or acrimonious break-up or when a marriage ends in divorce. Different end games result in different emotional processes.

Prudence aka Emily Yoffe is the second wife of a man who was widowed young. She’s written a rather touching essay on the subject and occasionally outs herself and him in her advice giving. That said, her experience hasn’t made her particularly sensitive to the plight of the widowed. You can’t really be a vicarious widowed person even if your contact with a widowed is rather intimate, so her advice veers off into the cliché, the assumption and the insensitive more often than not when anything widowed comes up.

A person could get speculative here. Perhaps her marriage has experienced more than a few unsettling moments due to her husband’s widowhood and advice seekers on the topic get to bear the brunt that her husband doesn’t. But assuming gets a person into trouble as does reading between lines. Let’s not go there.

Instead, the focus should be on the term “insecure”. Prudie/Emily replied that she felt the girlfriend in this widower dating scenario was simply being insecure and that he need only reassure her before laying down the facts that 1) he had a past and that past includes a deceased wife for whom he will always have feelings though these feelings didn’t preclude him from loving her just as much and 2) his in-laws were his family – get over it.

The insecure wife/girlfriend trope is not exclusive to widowed dating scenarios. It’s a rather effective way to disarm women who have issues within a relationship that their partners simply don’t want to admit are issues that need to be discussed and dealt with in a mutually agreeable manner.

Labeling a woman “insecure” is the first step in making her feelings irrelevant by labeling them irrational. It’s a great way to win any disagreement provided you are totally okay with stomping your opponent into the mud by using such a disingenuous douchebag method.

So why am I talking about advice giving?

It’s easy to give advice. Advice is like opinions, which as we all know everyone has – just like they have assholes.

And it’s also quite easy to fall into the trap of believing that because you’ve experienced something, you are automatically an expert and therefore qualified.

I am not an expert. Nor do I play one on the Internet.

I’ve been widowed. I’ve dated in the aftermath. I’ve remarried.

If one were looking for a bit of wisdom on the topic of successful dating, relationships, remarriage and marriage to a widower, I would be a safer bet than someone who hasn’t managed any of those things or who isn’t married to a man who was widowed himself. However, I have only my individual experiences to draw from and I am not you. Therefore anything I might say needs to be weighed heavily against your own reality.

Prudie is my example of this. She’s married to a man who was widowed, and yet she mostly gives sketchy to bad advice on the subject of widowhood and relationships in the aftermath. Her experience hasn’t translated into much of anything worth seeking out or following.

Of late, I’ve had emails from widowed and comments from those dating and I have tried to reply as best I could. I really do reply to all emails and comments because I know what it is like to have questions and no one to ask. Or to ask and have no one reply or reply in less than helpful ways.

But I am firm believer in weighing everything. There are blogs, books, message boards, Facebook groups and even conventions. All well-meaning but of varying degrees of useful. Certainly there are no experts. Just people with experiences to share and who are no more qualified than you are to solve the issues in your life.

I have written quite a bit on dating, grief and moving on. All based on my experience. Just the opinions of one “asshole”. If there is something that you can take from these writings and put to good use, wonderful. I am glad to have helped.

But there is no one size fits all.

When I was teaching middle school, I would run across this or that student who really didn’t mesh with my teaching style. The best solution was always to find a teacher who did. My seventh grade English teaching partner and I probably traded two or three kids a school year based on our philosophy that for every student there is a teacher – somewhere.

It’s good to shop around. I am flattered and humbled by the blog traffic I generate on widow dating. My husband thinks I should write a book – or at least blog more often -, but I am not a fan of the self-help genre, and I don’t write it for the same reason I don’t write about my first husband’s illness and death. It feels wrong to make money off it. That’s a personal thing rather than a judgement. I admire people who can write and do real good rather than simply exploit an issue for personal gain or fame. Those people do exist. I just question the idea of being one of them myself. It’s too easy to get full of yourself and I am as human as anyone.

So when surfing about, shopping at Amazon or joining this or that group, be careful. Be a critical thinker. And remember that you really do know yourself best. Take and apply only that which fits you and your situation.

I don’t know what ultimately happened to the man who wrote Prudie. Hopefully he did not approach his girlfriend from the stance of “I know you are insecure, dearest, but here is why you are wrong …”.  Don’t be that guy. And don’t worry so much. Whatever issues has brought you here in search of answers are likely as not fixable with a little bit of thought, open honest discussion and taking a few good deep breaths. The yoga teacher in me feels we should just all breathe more because all things pass. You are going to be okay.

Another Anniversary


From a certain point of view, I haven’t much actual marriage experience. In fact, I am still years away from having spent more of my adult life paired than single. So in some ways, my basis for comparison and analysis is short on actual “seat time” and what I know as “normal” can’t necessarily be taken as gospel. There are those who have spent more time in the so-called trenches than I have, but I have to say, I have yet to find marriage trench-like.

Is it typical to still lust after your husband five years on? I found myself wondering that for the umpteenth time the other evening.

“There is an awful lot of gropage that goes on around this house,” Rob remarked as we exchanged send-off affections at the back door this morning.

Rarely to if ever do we arrive or depart solo without excessive lip servicing and declarations of love and perhaps this is normal for the time frame. Having never made it past a sixth anniversary, I wouldn’t know personally. But I don’t see this in other couples and wonder if perhaps it is just me. Or just our circumstances? Or maybe evidence that too many people in the world take far too much for granted and no wonder there are as many failed marriages as there are successes.

Five years ago, Rob and I stood on the banks of the Athabasca River and exchanged vows, rings and kisses. Papers were signed. Pictures were taken. Food and drink was consumed. It seems like yesterday and history at the same time.

The card I left next to his steaming tea-cup this morning broke cardinal rules of relationship comparison and favoritism, but it brought a smile to his face and kisses and hugs to me, so who cares? Now is what counts because it’s the basis for tomorrow.

We will celebrate with lunch at the elementary school because it’s the last week of school and they always hold a family picnic, and then follow-up this evening with attendance at the last game of the outdoor soccer season. With our latest babysitter having outgrown the job, we couldn’t have scheduled a date even if the schedule was cleared anyway.

Rob bought me a new watch, a stylish but comfy pair of leather sandals and a couple of summer outfits I found at MEC this last weekend. I gave him a kick-ass miter saw. I am pretty sure that year five is marked with accessories and tools.

The search terms here have been lit up again with sad queries concerning widowed love or the lack of it. Despite my limited experience, the advice I have remains the same: disregard the dead spouse thing. It’s not central to the issue. Someone loves you and is interested in building a life with you or they simply aren’t. Why is beside the main point. If you don’t feel loved, do yourself the giant favor of taking steps to make yourself available for someone who is ready, willing and able to love.

Yesterday as I drove back to The Fort from yoga class, I noted that the fields are yellowing. Solstice has passed. Canada Day looms. The bonus months between school ending and starting up again, which as a former teacher is really the only way I know of marking time, awaits.

And it’s our anniversary. Not officially a stat day, but nearly enough.

Dating While Widowed: The Need for More Time


Drawing of Christine of France as the widowed ...

Drawing of Christine of France as the widowed Duchess of Savoy by (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than occasionally in my search terms the question of “dating widow/er who needs more time” comes up, and I cringe a little bit when it does. Because I know, more or less, why someone is trolling the Internet in a desperate quest for the definitive answer to this question.

Can a widowed person, who is still actively grieving, date? And fall in love again? And most important of all, move on?

And the answer is yes. Widowed people date all the time. An unsurprising number of them begin to date in the first year of widowhood even. They meet people. Feelings arise. Are acted upon.

It is very possible to date and be in love again while still mourning a dead spouse.

Here’s the caveat though – it’s not a good idea to use the “still grieving thing” to control the pace of a relationship. Getting into a relationship should be something one does when one is ready to go with the flow of it. Asking someone for “more time” is a quasi-controlling thing and it’s not emotionally fair.

I have said before and am saying again, dating is about two people’s needs and feelings. A widowed person is just one of the people in a new relationship and his/her – albeit quite sad and tragic state – doesn’t give him/her a leg up on the non-widowed person in terms of the pace or direction of the budding union. This has to be a united effort with all viewpoints and needs taken into consideration.*

So, if you are a widowed person who is dating and feel as if more time to emotionally ready yourself is in order – take it – but don’t ask someone to wait for you while you navel gaze. Even if you are fairly certain that the object of your maybe/maybe not affection will hang around, help with the lawn or child care and occasionally roll in the proverbial hay with you while you decide whether or not your heart is in it. Be a better person than that. Let him or her go. Your clinging could keep him/her  from finding the unconditional love waiting for your selfishness to step out-of-the-way.

And if you are dating someone who asks for more time? My advice is the same. Let that widow go. You won’t, of course. You are too invested in the idea that a widowed person (and I am really talking to women dating widowers here) just needs patience, understanding and someone to love the grief away to listen to me tell you the truth that your Google search thinks you want, but anyone who is truly in love (whether or not they are still grieving a loss) will not let love lost stand in the way of a second chance.

Some people need a lot of time to recover from the death of a spouse. Some people decide to wait until their children are grown and gone before dating or remarrying again. Some are not looking for relationships but companionship with or without sex. Finally, there are those who only want the sex and a bit of companionship on the side. Regardless, anyone who asks you to “give me more time” is really saying “I am not sure”, and those four words coupled with conflicting actions or what appears to be deliberate drama – are more likely than not to cause more heartache than happiness.

There is that old chestnut “if you love someone, let them go. if they come back then they are yours and if they don’t, they never were”. As clichés go, it ranks right up there, but in all cliché there is a tiny bit of truth. And there is nothing awful about stepping back and thinking things through without the burden of someone else’s expectations.

You can date. love and remarry again while still grieving. Grief is something you do on your own. It’s not a couple thing and a new partner is not your therapist. If you can’t separate things, it’s best to not go there for all parties.

You can date, love and marry someone who is grieving a lost love, but it’s not your job to fix anything or to be understanding or even to make allowances for it. You can. You probably will, but I wouldn’t make it a habit because it’s more than likely to take the focus off building the new relationship.

In the end, most people follow their hormone-driven hearts rather than heeding advice. Sometimes that works too. But own it. Not being realistic or cognizant of how you colour your perceptions of a situation to suit your fantasies rather than your realities has broken more than one person’s heart. So remember, people who are ready to date again after being widowed are those who put actions behind their pretty words. And the words, “I need more time” should be followed by the action of taking it.

*Viewpoints and needs of the couple. I am not a fan of allowing children (of any age), friends, extended family or in-laws having a vote or even a voice. Coupledoms are a convention of two and any more is going to be a crowded mess.

Dating While Widowed: New Relationships are NOT a Form of Grief Therapy


English: Comfort in Grief

Image via Wikipedia

There is an unsurprising, yet disturbing, number of dating and remarried widowed folk who seem to feel that coupling again is part and parcel of the “healing process”. It’s something to be done for distraction’s sake, or to ease the emotional aches and pains. They regard new partners as means rather an ends, who should give way to urns as centerpieces, constant chatter about the past and memorabilia of all shapes and sizes.

Let’s be clear. Dating is about seeking new companionship – casually or for the long-term – and can only really be about the two living people engaging in the relationship. Your late spouse is not part of the equation in any active sense of the word.

Recently a commenter voiced the common lament of many widowed back out in the dating trenches,

If you truly love us, you would embrace our lost love as much as we do.

And if you loved them, you’d not expect such a thing because though a new partner can be understanding, sympathetic and even feel bad for what you’ve been through – grieving isn’t a date night activity. They can’t feel what you feel and to ask them to periodically put the brakes on their romance to cater to your heartbreak over someone else is cruel.

At some point, in order to truly be ready to open up to love and a relationship, a widowed person needs to deal with the past and then put it away. In some cases, this packing up includes tangible objects. No one should expect his/her new love to live in a museum to a dead love or to man up daily against feelings of jealousy or inadequacy.

There is nothing obvious in our home that points to the fact that both Rob and I have deceased spouses. We are five years into a relationship that with luck has decades to go. In order for our relationship to flourish, it needs its own space to grow. It needs to be free of shadows, comparisons, and artifacts that speak of past marriages.

Even though we both understand that memories linger, you won’t catch either of us expecting the other to share feelings about a past with which the other wasn’t privy.

Expecting a new partner to listen to endless references or stories is unfair to them and ultimately unproductive if the aim is building a new relationship. Don’t use someone. You are not entitled to make yourself feel better at someone else’s emotional expense. And if you aren’t ready to put your late spouse in your past where he/she belongs, don’t date. You aren’t ready.

A new love should inspire you to make room and dream about the future.

 

Dating While Widowed: The Search Term Edition


A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...

Image via Wikipedia

The search term that brought you here does not go unnoticed. Reaction varies. Amusement. Puzzlement. Dumbstruck with horror. Feeling as though a through scouring of the mind’s eye is in order.

Some searches make me sad.

Queries like “how will I know when widower loves me” leave me stuck with the image of tear-stained keyboards for instance.

Others make me want to grab shoulders and shake sense into the searcher. “How can I help my widower grieve?” Who in blogland is perpetuating nonsense ideas like this one?

There is a general underlying theme of “please just tell me how to make the person I love get over his/her dead spouse, so we can be happy.” Which is the saddest of all reasons made more sad by the fact that some people have only Google to turn to for advice.

My current personal favorite is “when will a widow be ready to fuck?” Have to admire the direct nature and honesty behind that even while questioning the integrity and ulterior motives that are probably driving such a quest for this kind of information.

So today, in no particular order, I am going to address some of the more ubiquitous search terms in the hopes that someone might find the answers to questions they are tossing at Google like it was a Magic 8 Ball.

Why widowers are not excited about second marriage weddings?

Men, in general, are not typical Bride’s Magazine target  audience for a reason. Wedding foo-fooery is a girl thing. If your intended is not terribly interested in the finer details of gowns, rehearsal dinners and wedding pageantry, it’s more than likely it’s because he is male, and they just didn’t get that gene.

However, some widowed folk can be annoying in their attitude that a second wedding is not to be the big production that the first may have been. If this is the case, blame society first. Although it’s slowly changing, second and third weddings are often downgraded affairs because one or both of the principles have done this before and family and friends have done this before and there is this Miss Manners expectation that any wedding after a first wedding should be tasteful and underdone because no one should be flaunting the fact that they have to do this more than once.

I’ll admit that I did not want a Bridezilla  bash the second time, and I let Rob do most of the planning. But as we married on his home turf, it was just easier that way. The only job I was given was to arrange for flowers, and I waited until four days before the ceremony to do this, which had more to do with the fact that I had no clue about local florists, and no one assisting me, than anything else.

It is a bit surreal to remarry after you have been widowed. People don’t expect to be widowed, and how ridiculous is that? Marriages in our times, however, more often disappear in a legal flurry than in death, so I would say that many remarrying widowed do so with keen awareness of the circumstances that led them to the altar again. It’s neither a good nor bad thing. Just an awareness, The new partner can choose to make a big hairy deal out of it, or just let it go as one of those things that makes the new union different from other unions.

How to bring up a discussion about the  deceased wife with a widower

Don’t. That’s my advice. She’s going to come up all on her own without prompting and in more instances than you can know over the course of dating and marriage. It takes a very secure in themselves person to not let that bug the shit out of her/him. This is where having your own emotional baggage checked and in cold storage is a wise thing. People who carry insecurity issues into new relationships tend to have a rough time anyway but with a widowed person, especially one who had a pretty good marriage, they can find themselves floundering and without much empathy from their new partners to help them.

But if you really have to go there, the best route is the direct one. Just ask. However, own your part in the feelings that it might bring up for you. Don’t blame the guy (or gal) if you ask, he/she answers and now you feel bad. You asked for it.

How should a relationship progress widower?

Like any relationship with any other man should progress. Forget about being understanding or patient unless that is what you do with men who haven’t been widowed too. Don’t feel sorry for him or make excuses for anything that would send you packing if he was any other guy. Widowhood does not have a special category when it comes to dating. Any widowed person who is floundering emotionally, runs hot/cold or is in any way giving off unbalanced vibes isn’t ready to date, and no matter how great he/she looks on paper, move on. Just because some dead woman managed to get him to put a ring on it and breed, doesn’t mean you will or that he was all that much of a catch back then.

Take off your tinted glasses and realistically assess the man and the relationship in terms of what is good for you now and ten years from now.

Healthy relationships progress at a mutually satisfactory rate that is tears and drama free. Anything else is an episode for a widowed person reality show that TLC just hasn’t gotten around to exploiting yet.

Dating a widower with grown children who don’t like it

The key here is how is he responding and how do the kids take it? If he is understanding, yet firm about his autonomy and their needing to get with the program – and they do – count your blessings. If he is the equivalent of Chamberlain with the Nazis – it’s all about appeasement – and they take this as a sign that the war is on, run away.

Adult children rarely kick up an obvious fuss if they have been raised properly. By this I mean that as children and teens, they knew their place, and it wasn’t that of a peer to their parents. Adult kids who have been running the show since toddlerhood aren’t going to give up their position of power ever. They will feel free to poke their nose into their dad’s business and make demands always. Even if he should grown a spine and take a stand expect acrimony and lingering issues for a long time to come.

The same holds true for in-laws. Evil in-laws were always such. They were that way before and they will continue. Some widowed simply can’t or won’t take a stand and own their lives. It’s up to you as to whether this is an existence you can live with, but remember, if you chose it – own the consequences yourself.

What is average time for widows remarry?

There aren’t a lot of stats. Young widowed tend to remarry faster than those in their middle years and seniors remarry the least of all. Males remarry faster than females. Having children or not factors as well with widowers been less hesitant than widows because of the fact that men are far more likely to be abusive step-parents than women are – which is funny because evil step-moms are the stereotype and not the other way around.

Generally men, if they are going to remarry, do so within about two to four years and women within  three to five, and those over 60, regardless of gender, rarely remarry. It’s not a hard and fast thing, and there are those of both genders who remarry quite quickly, just as there are those who take years to even date. It’s a personality thing, and often in our society, widowed parents are applauded for putting off dating until they’ve raised their children, which unsurprisingly can lead to adult children who feel entitled to put their two cents in where it doesn’t belong thus creating a vicious circle.

Widower expects girlfriend to grieve with him

Run away. Quickly. Grief is not a couples activity. You can’t grieve for someone you didn’t know. And this is just plain silly. Anyone who is expecting this is looking for grief counseling with benefits.

Widow meets widower

An unsurprising number of widowed people prefer to date each other. It cuts down on the endless explaining about what is and isn’t where being widowed is concerned. Unwidowed people buy in to the idea of grief as a process and a lifelong issue at even more alarming rates than widowed people do themselves. They are also, if this is possible, quicker to push therapy and pharmaceuticals* as means to “happily ever after again” than the cluelessly well-meaning family physicians of widowed are.

For Rob and I, it has meant not having to wonder how the other feels about this or that grief related thing. For me it means that I am not threatened by his late wife’s memory, and I don’t fall into the competition trap because I know that the dead are in no position to offer up much by way of being an opponent. Shelley was a real woman with real feelings who occupied a real place in Rob’s life for a long, long time. But that was before me, and now I occupy that space. It’s really not that difficult of a concept and it’s not something to angst about, but if the person you are dating is making it a big, dramatic deal about all issues death, you have thinking to do.

Like any relationship, there has to be attraction and common ground, and it can’t be simply grief. Relationships that are based purely on being widowed just won’t work because grieving does end and then what is the couple left with?

And dating another widowed doesn’t offer immunity from in-laws from hell or surly teens and adult children issues. There are plenty of widowed couples who can attest to that fact. It also won’t help you much if you are moving on and he/she doesn’t really feel like doing so. There can still be battles about late spouse pictures and memorabilia and general clinging to the past.

It was nice that Rob was widowed instead of divorced. His attitude about relationships and marriage was not as jaded. He did not feel the need to “test” me, which in my experience with divorced men was tiring and irritating by turns, but Rob and I have always had far more in common than dead spouses, which is why we’ve worked.

“Widower” sex

It’s sex. Nothing weird about it as far as my experience goes. If intimacy issues arise, or rather nothing much arises, then this is cause for discussion and possible a medical examination to rule out physical problems and illness. But I would say that widowers in general are no different from any other man where sex is concerned.

Dating a recent widower who is ambivalent

Ambivalence in a man (or woman really) where dating is concerned is a sign that he isn’t all that sure about you. It’s not a widower thing exclusively. Don’t assume that every hiccup in a relationship has deep dead wife meaning attached to it. Sometimes men just date. Even widowers. And sometimes, you aren’t going to be “the one”. Be honest and be realistic with yourself. If he isn’t moving mountains at the speed of Mohamed, you would do well to keep your options open. Widowers are men first and men can date and be intimate without being in love.

How soon is too soon to introduce a new girlfriend to your adult children after the death of their mother

I wouldn’t bring her to the funeral.

But when? When you are sure that she is more than just someone you are just dating. If your girlfriend is important, and you can see a long-term relationship developing, the sooner you alert your children the better. Hiding her will damage your relationship with her and with your children.

Talk to the kids first. Let them know you are dating and it’s serious. Warn them upfront that you are an adult, their dad and not their peer, and that though you understand they might be upset, it’s not their place to tell you what to do. Expect them to be courteous but don’t be hurt if they absent themselves from your life for a while as they adjust. Remind them that this is the same respect you accord them with the people they have chosen to date and/or marry.

Communication is key. Listening without judgment is important. Respecting that their grief is theirs and you can’t speed it up is vital. However, it’s also important to be true to your needs and put your new girlfriend in the number one spot. You wouldn’t have allowed your kids to come between you and your late wife, so don’t let them do so now.

Be patient but be resolute.

Did i remarry too soon after widowhood?

I don’t know. Did you?

Is this what you think or what others are telling you? I have written about his before and you can read it here.

Summing it up

Did I miss anything? Probably and you can feel free to ask questions in the comment section, check out links below or shoot me an email. My contact information is on the Me, If Your are Interested in Knowing page.

Widowhood is not mysterious or a chronic malady. It’s a life event and like all experiences, we go through them, hopefully learn something and move on. Take off the kid gloves and stop being so squeamish.

 

*Despite the fact that reputable psychologists don’t recommend grief therapy or anti-depressants for the bereaved in the initially months, non-widowed in particular are quick to recommend it because our culture is mired in the idea that no one’s sadness should interfere with what we want. Americans in general have become a nation of prescription drug addicts out of naivete and ignorance where psychotropic drugs and therapy are concerned and when anyone can get obtain grief counselor status with a quick weekend workshop or a month of Thursday nights taking courses at the local hospice – buyer be aware.

Calling All Women Married to Widowers


Just-married

Just Married

Abel Keogh’s working on a follow-up to his Dating A Widower book and is looking for women who have actually married widowers and are willing to share their experiences. You can find out more information about the book and the criteria for the essays by following this link.

Rob follows Abel’s Wednesday Widower posts although mostly to read my comments and when he saw the call for submissions, he asked me if I planned to write an essay.

“I don’t think I have anything to add,” I said. “If I have anything to say about you and I, or how we ended up married or even how it went that first year, I should probably write my own book, don’t you think?”

“Yes,” he said. “Are you going to write that book – ever?”

Probably. But I am still working on the angle. Frankly, I think the whole “widowed find love again” thing is played to death despite the fact that when stories turn up in the media they elicit a great deal of cooing from the general public, which in my opinion treats the stories like freakish there but for the grace of God go I cautionary fairy tales.

I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and have been totally taken with his POV chapters. I wonder if I could write our story in a similar style? But, that would mean soliciting Edie, Mick and various other friends and relatives. Would I really want to hear their take on that first year? It’s better sometimes not to know what people were really thinking behind their party manners game faces. It’s an intriguing idea nevertheless. Or maybe it’s the dwarf.

At any rate, widowed stories are a dime a dozen and let’s face it, it’s only widowers who are “hot”. They are like unicorns below a certain age and capture the fancy and tug at heartstrings more than widows, who just another breed of single mom for the most part.*

I am still not convinced that Rob and I did anything particularly amazing despite feeling that we are amazing. My feelings are biased and they are the basis for a book anyone would read. I’ve read … tried to at any rate … other books by widowed. Mostly they focused on the first year and selling the idea that somehow grief is like learning to walk again on tree stumps. Something a person has to just learn to be okay with like any other permanent disability – only while being really brave and semi-cheerful so as not to frighten the non-grieving folk. I don’t think I could write a similar tale because being widowed is just a “shit happens” thing and moving on is what a rational person should want to do badly enough to actually choose to do it. Remarrying or not is another choice that is based partly on you, partly on luck and partly on someone else seeing things as you do.

But Rob says I am too practical a person to really see the wonder in it all, which might be true. I know I am too practical to view it as magic or destiny (outside the idea that we all have a destiny which needs are active participation to be realized here and there).

Anyway, if you are married to a widower and have words of wisdom or caution to share with other women considering or preparing to marry a widower, here’s your chance. Follow the link.

 

*No I haven’t forgotten that some widows are childless, but they seem to be an ever smaller sub-set of an already tiny percentage of the population and like single mom’s, they don’t inspire much enthusiasm in the general population. Everyone knows a single woman just like everyone knows a single mom. The whole extra x dooms us to known-ness and renders us uninteresting at best and stereotypical at worst.

Five Years and a Bit


English: A simple illustration of a cake with ...

Image via Wikipedia

My birthday present from Rob arrived just today. It came from Arkansas, which is fitting, by way of Florida, which is just odd. He’s been obsessively keeping tabs on it via the tracking number for  over a week, quizzing me daily on the contents of the mail.

“The package you’ve been waiting for showed up today,” I told him when I called his office after lunch.

“It’s your package,” he said.

“Should I open it now or wait for you?”

“Can you wait?” he asked, which was silly because of course I can, but I know he can’t.

“Okay,” I reply.

“Oh go ahead and open it,” he said, “and check to make sure that it hasn’t been tampered with. Remember what happened to Unbearable.”

Our virtual friend, Unbearable, lost a rare book in a tragic postal heist.

“I paid to have it gift wrapped too,” he added.

It was.  Both in the package and gift-wrapped.  And I pried the gift box open.  It was quite tiny and I couldn’t begin to imagine what I needed – or wanted – that would be housed in such a shiny red box.

Inside was an even tinier satchel of red and when I tipped it upside down, a silver chain and pendant dropped into my hand.

When he asked me weeks ago what I wanted for my birthday, I initially couldn’t think of a thing. I have everything I need and nearly anything it occurs to me to want. It’s a rare and privileged person who can say this, so I don’t do so lightly, but as far as the material goes – I am blessed, if there is such a thing. But when pressed, I did come up with a small list which included: an om sign for my yoga room door and a Buddha for the corner.

“They are incredibly hard to find,” he told me days later, “but I think the alternatives will suit you.”

Dee gave me a set of figurines made in Haiti that they discovered at The Ten Thousand Villages website. Each figure is performing an asana.

And from some vendor in Arkansas, a very special place in our personal lore, he found the pendant and chain.

If either of us believed in coincidence, we’d note the timing of his gift. The anniversary of him sending me a private message back on Ye Olde Widda Board was this last weekend. Neither of us believe in coincidence. Just timing, which has always been quite convenient where we are concerned.

Five years. While mostly it feels as though I have known Rob forever, and he me, the truth is that it’s just five years, which isn’t even forever in dog years. It only brings one to the brink of middle-age.

“It’s beautiful, ” I told him. “Thank you, Baby.”

“Well,” he replied, “It’s been five years and I thought you were due another piece of jewelry.”

The first piece of jewelry Rob gave me was a  gold double heart pendant with a small diamond in the crook of the uppermost heart. The occasion was our very first face to face meeting in Idaho Falls, the anniversary of which is a mere two months away. We’d been “dating” virtually, at his suggestions, for just a month when we met up. With only the rarest of exceptions, I have worn that necklace every day since.

His second gift of bling was my engagement ring barely a month later, which was joined by the wedding band three months after that. To say we moved quickly is overstating because I know couples who’ve moved at twice our speed, but I won’t be surprised if you clucked your tongue back then or if you marvel now. Both responses are within the realm of appropriate.

I am not a jewelry person though I have tried to acquire the habit on and off out of a sense that it is something women do, but aside from wedding rings, the occasional necklace and the odd navel piercing – it’s never took. Rob thinks I should just wear one of the other necklace or else,

“You will look like an old white lady rapper wanna-be,” he said.

I am loathe to give up my hearts but the om is quite becoming and I have already worn out one clasp on the heart necklace, so perhaps it deserves a break.

And I am a bit surprised to be surprised by a gift. Often, when pressed, I end up shopping for myself and letting Rob and Dee choose from my selections, wrap it and present it to me gift fashion. It’s not as unromantic or thoughtless as it sounds. I always get what I need this way and I learned it from my Dad, who used to assign each of us gifts to buy him at Christmas time.  Inevitably he would call me the week before Christmas and say something like,

“I need a new pair of jeans. Waist 34 and inseam 30. Don’t spend too much. Go to Target or J.C. Penney’s. Make sure the pockets are plain. I don’t want any of that damn fancy stitching.” I could hear his eyes roll across the miles as he uttered the last sentence.  He had a low opinion of men who had fancy stitching on their jeans … or wore them prison bitch style.

He was, perhaps, a bit more Virgo than most Virgo’s I know, but he also never had to return things the day after the holiday either.

Surprise isn’t necessary to enhance a gift’s awesome factor when it is from my husband or children, but it is sweet and wonderful and it is another reminder of how, truly, I have everything.