So I’ve been sitting in the hospital all day, waiting for my boyfriend to come out of surgery. This has, obviously, given me a lot of time to think.
Fortunately, I’ve had some good reading material. Ellen Gerst, from Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story, asked me to read her new book, Suddenly Single: Help on Navigating the Stormy Seas of Loss, which has been a pleasure. Fabulous ideas that have had me going, “Uh huh. Uh huh. Oooo...I’m going to try that one.”
When I emailed Ellen, to let her know that I was so thankful to receive her book, she very sweetly said, “Are you sure you want to be reading a book about widowhood while you’re sitting in the hospital, waiting for someone to get out of surgery?”
To which I replied, “I might as well. I’ll be thinking about it anyway.”
This is a tip for all of you un-widowed people out there: If you should ever become sick or incapacitated...you may want to think twice before you ask a widow to come with you to the hospital. It has nothing to do with the fact that we may not be able to handle it (although my own absence of a complete mental belly-flop today has made me realize that I’ve reached a new, more functioning stage of widowhood).
It has more to do with how we make you feel.
I’ve been kind of laughing to myself this morning (okay...I guess if I’m laughing to myself in the surgery waiting room, the mental belly-flop could still be forthcoming) because in our preparation to get ready for today...I think I’ve really been sort of preparing for him not to come back.
It’s kind of weird. I haven’t actually been thinking to myself, “He may not come back.” Consciously I’m pretty positive that he will. But all of my preparation the last few days is something I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t entered the Widdahood at a time when I least expected it.
I’d like to think I’ve been sort of stealthy about it...but I’m sure I haven’t. I mean, you can’t say to someone, “I know you’ll be fine!! You’re going to sail right through this! Now, give me the phone numbers of all of your family members and the passwords to every account you have.”
I think I’m just trying to improve upon the last time. All you widdas will get this: When your spouse died...weren’t there some things that you wish you could have done differently? Things you wish you’d said? Information you wish you had prepared better? At least a better book to read in the waiting room?
Well...unfortunately the person we get the “next time around” is the beneficiary of all of the depressing knowledge that was bestowed upon us during our previous experience. The result is that there is a little part of us that thinks the “next time around” is going to kick the bucket at any moment and, as with everything in life, we would like to do better when we have the second chance. It’s like getting a second shot at the Olympics. Only more depressing, insanity-inducing, and we don’t get a medal if we do well.
Yes. It’s terrible to live with that feeling as a widow. But I’m sure it’s down-right freaky for the other party.
I really did leave this morning with confidence that everything would be fine. Which is a huge switch from how I used to be. Just a few months ago, if someone told me they were going to have a cavity filled, I would have shoved a “Medical Power of Attorney” in front of them.
This guy has been around long enough to know how truly crazy I am. And one of two things is happening: Either he’s gotten to the point where it entertains him slightly or he’s still working on completing some required community service hours I don’t know about. Either way...this whole experience has had to be a little unsettling for him.
I mean, any other guy who dates a girl who hasn’t gone through the widdahood experience probably would have shown up to surgery this morning, a little hungover from the “pre-tumor-removal-party” his smokin’ hot girlfriend threw him the night before, alcohol warnings be damned. Instead, he “partied” with me, who made him make a list of every medication he’d taken in the last 2.3 years and forced him to start charting all of his “outflows,” just in case that might affect his chances of a successful operation.
And I’m not the only one who has been affected by my widowhood. When I walked into the surgery waiting area, who should I find waiting...but my entire family? Now, these are the kind of people who would go to the hospital and wait with anyone who needed them...a friend, neighbor, family member. My mom came armed with Phase 10 cards, my sister came with plenty of subjects for us to talk about, and my dad bought me lunch (because you’re never too old to sponge free food off of your parents).
All I can think is that I’m kind of glad that they came after my boyfriend was already in surgery. Because if he had seen us all here, faces pale and anxious...he would have thought he was dying for sure.
So now I’m up in his room, surgery done, watching him squirm with pain, and thankful for it. Because, as a widow I know...
...it’s better to see squirming than not.