There’s a fear that lies deep in the heart of every widow. It’s not something we talk about a lot. Most of us probably don’t even realize how scared of it we are, but if you can show me one widow who’s not afraid of it, I’ll buy you the winning lottery ticket. Are you ready? Deep breath….
We don’t want to do this again.
I would imagine that most of us, at some point or another, have had a fear of dating. Some widows got over it early and some will never get over it. We talk about how we know we’ll never replace the person who is gone, we don’t have the energy to get out there, and, frankly, how we’re just worried about all the nutjobs that are in the world and would rather not sit down and have a beer with one.
But we don’t often talk about how scared we are of going through a loss again.
One of the hardest parts about losing your spouse is realizing how fragile life is. And that just because something like this has happened once, doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. I often wish, if the universe were a fair place, that once you hit your quota of bad luck, it wouldn’t happen to you anymore. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Not that it would have made losing my husband any easier, but in the end, I could have at least taken a deep breath and thought, “Whew, got that over with.”
But life doesn’t work that way.
Now I’m worried that it’s possible to earn the nickname “Black Widow” before I turn 40. I already can’t stand the idea of chin waxing and I can’t figure out the mysterious popping noise coming out of my right knee. I don’t need another dead spouse.
I’ll never forget talking to a friend of mine a couple of years after my husband died. What started out as a normal conversation about the new house she had rented, slowly turned into her verbalizing a nightmare I’d had since taking the plunge into the dating world.
“Yeah, our landlord lived in this house until her husband died. Then she started dating her neighbor, married him, moved into his house, and then he died. But she just decided to stay over there and rent this house out.”
You may insert your own expletive here.
It takes a lot of guts to get out there and take this risk all over again. And kind of like divorcees…it’s learning to trust again. But it’s not a matter of trusting someone else. It’s being able to trust fate not to send you up you-know-what creek without a paddle again. ‘Cause this time your boat’s a little leaky.
I mean…can you imagine? What if something happens and you’re at the hospital with you second spouse as a doctor is trying to explain what’s going on? Do you just put your hand up in his face and say, “Yeah. I’ve seen this before. You can go about your business”?
You would think they would at least give you a punch card or something at that point.
Now, I didn’t mean to write this to promote this insecurity that we all have. And I certainly didn’t mean to make light of it. This is a real fear. And I’m just as worried about it as any of you. Humor is just my defense mechanism and the only way I can keep myself from going completely around the bend. I think.
Guess we’ll see.
But what I hear from most widows is that the times we had with our spouses were the best times in our lives. We wouldn’t trade them for anything. All of the pain and sadness we have been through cannot equal the amazing experiences we've had.
You cannot love without taking a risk. But if you had shut yourself into a box years ago, you would have never met the person who gave you all of those great times in the first place. I know that getting back out there, after losing someone, is a huge risk. But what if…what if…those good times are not gone? After all, marriage was a 50/50 deal so that means we had to be at least half of the good times. What if we could get to the point, look past the fear, and know that the other half just might be out there again?
We are all people who are capable of great love. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have lost so much. It’s there. It’s in us. Those people who have decided not to take the risk again…that’s okay. But it’s not because you can’t. You’ve already proven once that you can. We are all in different stages of getting past that fear and, honestly, we’ll probably be working through that for the rest of our lives.
For me, I’m just trying not to take it personally that one guy I know uses the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” as his ring tone when I call.
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© Catherine Tidd 2010