It's strange to think that a title I never wanted, is a title that I could not be more proud to own. The word "widow" carries so much weight with it, especially at the age of 25. When people hear the word "widow," they usually picture an elderly woman who lost her husband of 50+ years, not a 25 year old woman who lost her husband of four months. But that is the card that I was dealt. And it is even crazier to think that I have been a widow for 18 months and 21 days. Some days it feels like it happened yesterday, and some days it feels like it was a lifetime ago that I saw his smiling face, gazed into those beautiful green eyes, or heard his loving voice. I can not wait to share the story of our last moments together, and the hell the followed October 5, 2010. But that is for another blog on another day, when I have the strength to sit down and put it on paper.
For now, I thought I would share some of my experiences with you since I became a widow; 18 months and 21 days ago. I would have to say that one of the oddest things that has happened since October 5, 2010 has been my new obsession with the Santa Maria Cemetary. Cemetaries used to terrify me. I had only been to one once or twice in my lifetime prior to Dan's passing. Today, the cemetary is like my second home. I go there at least every other day. I go there to vent, to think, to talk to Dan, to clear my mind. There are about five or six "usuals" that I see every time I am there. We wave, we talk, we share empathetic looks. It feels nice to see those faces. A reminder that I am not alone. However, there was one day when I encountered a rather strange woman. I was sitting at Dan's grave, lost in my thoughts, when I heard a voice call out from across the cemetary, "Is that your Husband?" I replied yes, and went back to my business. She then called out, "Car accident?" I said no, and informed her that Dan was killed in Afghanistan. She then came back with, "Did they shoot him dead?" Who says that? That takes some nerve. The next thing she said is something that I have heard more than once. She said, "Well, at least you are still young." That offers me absolutely NO comfort or relief from the pain. What does that even mean? I don't care that I have plenty of time to find another Husband, I want the one I had!
Another thing I hear quite often is, "Thank goodness you didn't have children with him." Why? I would have loved to have created another life with Dan before his passing. I would love to be able to look into our child's eyes and see a part of Dan every single day. One person even told me that I was lucky to not have had kids because now I have a "clean break." Yep, that one left me speechless.
I also realize that there are times when I make the inappropriate comment out of anger, frustration or annoyance. I was at a local bar a few months after Dan died, and a man at the bar asked me if I would take off my rings for a night and forget that I was married and be with him. Extremely creepy and inappropriate. I quickly came back with, "I don't think my recently dead Husband would appreciate that." His jaw dropped. I realize that it was probably not the classiest response, but hey, I never claimed to be classy. And when the checker at the grocery store told me how pretty the flowers I was buying would look in my house, I replied with, "Well I hope they look good on either side of my Husband's headstone, because that is where they are going. Now ring me up please." Again, not my proudest moment.
Being a widow has not only made me proud and strong, but it has also made me crazy and jaded. And I love it. After picking out caskets, writing your Husband's obituary, burying your Husband, and dealing with hundreds of sympathetic head tilts for the months following, you change. I am so incredibly proud to belong to such a great group of people; military widows. We are strong. We are proud. We are weird. And I am SO happy to have the support and love of the military widows that I have had the pleasure to come in contact with. Again, "widow" is not a title I ever wanted, but it is one that I am incredibly proud to rock!!