falling in love after losing one’s spouse


Family arrangements in the US have become more...

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There is no new normal because, honestly, the whole idea of normal is highly subjective even under the best of circumstances which makes our former normal a matter of opinion really. Just as an example, for my four year old daughter old normal was a terminally ill father whose unresponsive shell she visited weekly at first in a nursing home, then in a hospice and finally in a cemetery where she would hug the grave marker good-bye before leaving. Now her normal is Daddy Will and Daddy Rob and two big sisters, one of whom she has yet to meet. This is normal to her. Even when she compares herself to her peers at the preschool she attends (and she does), she doesn’t see herself as different. Her friends have fathers and she does too. Her friends have older siblings and she does too. Her friends have DVD players in their cars, and now thanks to Daddy Rob, so does she. Four year old’s have their priorities straight and are shockingly practical.

 

Society fights a losing battle to norm itself, set standards and define optimal situations. While they seem to work for the majority of people, it doesn’t seem to be how the majority of people actually live. As another example, about a month ago a state trooper came into the high school where I teach to deliver a presentation to the students on the dangers of meeting people on the Internet. I sat as far back in the auditorium as I could, and I listened to the kids around me as they dismissed most of what the officer had to say as largely misinformed scare tactics, and although I don’t personally discount the possibility of predators on the net, I had to agree with the students. There are predators everywhere in real and virtual life. It is wise to know what signs to look for and to be careful when getting to know someone, but normal for most of the teens and young adults I know is meeting people via the Internet. Friends that you have never seen or talked to is no more unusual to them than the old concept of pen pals. Cyber introductions are similar to “friend of a friend” connections. I met Rob on a message board. In fifty-five days we are going to be married. In times gone by men and women met and got to know their potential mates via correspondence with their first face to face meetings often being their weddings. And that was normal. Twenty-five years ago my friends and I were meeting and dating young men we met at bars and frat parties. And that was normal, but I don’t remember any lectures on stranger danger from state troopers back then.

 

Normal is in the eye of the beholder. As my darling husband-to-be would say, “It is what it is,” which is a topic for another day.


"The Garden of Eden" by Lucas Cranac...

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Most married couples have this romantic expectation of spending eternity together. Buried side by side. Reuniting in heaven. It’s the kind of thing Hollywood makes movies about and Celine Dion warbles at us. But, what if there isn’t an eternity. No physical possibility of lying side by side. And heaven isn’t anymore real than the Garden of Eden?

Something I read on the YWBB got me thinking again about being buried. Someday. After I am dead. I have always maintained that my daughter should be the one to decide the final resting place of my earthly remains. Where I am will matter most to her after all. But, that was before Rob. Where I rest would matter to him as well now.

Dee’s father is buried in a little Catholic cemetery in a little town in Iowa where the bar that he played pool league out of is located. Will didn’t want his ashes scattered to the wind, even if I could have found a way to place him in the end zone at Heinz’s Stadium, because he didn’t want to be ashes. He wanted to be buried. He never specified where though he ruled out a few places most emphatically. Like Pella, where both of his parents are from and his father is buried. He hated Pella, and he didn’t much care for his father either. And Norwalk. The bedroom community he grew up in and considered a splat on the map for the most part – though I suspect he knew if he was buried too close to where his mother lived, she would cover his grave in death swag and bling. He loathed the idea of becoming a shrine like the ones you see along the side of the road.

Economically, a full burial was never an option I could promise him. It was partly luck that I learned of St. John’s and was able to afford to intern his ashes there. His name alone is on the headstone though there is room for mine, I suppose if I planned to stay in Iowa. But that was never the plan, even before Rob, I didn’t see myself here in another year or maybe two.

Will believed that a person’s soul went to heaven when he/she died. He believed that you met God. He told me once that he it would “suck” having to wait all those years for me because he knew I was going to be very old when I died. I told him not to worry that he would have my second husband to keep him company. He didn’t think that was funny, but I never could make him laugh. “You’re just not that funny, babe,” he used to tell me. Ironically, Rob holds much the same opinion of me.

I didn’t save any of Will’s cremains. I buried the container unopened. I literally buried it. With no money it was just me, Katy and the sexton standing over this little hole in the ground. The sexton, a very nice old man who had showed me his own plot the day I went to pick out Will’s, recited the “Our Father” and I placed the urn in the ground myself. I am a bit sorry now that I don’t have some of the ashes to take with me to Canada, but there is nothing to do about it now. As I told Rob when he asked, I am fairly certain there are laws against digging up your dead husband’s urn simply because you’re moving to another country, but to his credit, Rob offered to sneak out there with me under cover of darkness and help me dig Will up. Being arrested for unearthing my dead husband’s remains was not high on my bucket list, so I declined.

Truthfully, I feel only a sense of failure when I visit his grave anymore. It will actually be a relief not to feel obligated. In the beginning I went simply because it was something tangible to yell at or complain to or beg for help. Now it’s just a rock. He isn’t there. He was never there.


Love for Arts

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I sent an email to my gentleman this morning. He told me last night that he had “fallen” for me and this morning I told him I felt that same way.

Why do I just want to cry now?

It’s nearly noon and I am still in my pajamas. I still love Will but I love R too. And it isn’t as if they conflict or even overlap. They don’t even run parallel. But, they do exist in the same space. I don’t even know what to compare this too. It is so outside of any reference frame I have.

People on the board have compared it to the love you have for your children. Different for each one but just as intense and special. But isn’t quite the same. You expect to have enough love for all your kids, you never expect to meet someone so amazingly wonderful that you would risk losing them forever….again. I have said that I don’t know if I could sit by a man’s side and watch him die, but I wouldn’t want R to be with anyone but me when that day comes. And between now and that far away day, I want to spend every minute I am allowed just being with him.