Loss of ConsortOnce upon a time, this blog was about academia, dissertations, teaching, motherhood. Now, it seems to be all widowhood, all the time. I guess I should change my tag-line, but I hold out hope of returning to other topics one day.
Losing a spouse is also losing the self--the self I was with him. These days, I'm feeling my self-loss particularly acutely. I was and am a somewhat solitary person by nature (so was he, yet somehow mutual solitude suited us); that is, I like to be among friends, but find it very difficult to reach out to them. And my hideous new status has made this even harder. As dearly as I love them, it's hard to be around my "family" friends, because I am filled with intense sadness for what my daughter and I have lost. This weekend, we had a lovely beach outing with two other families. Watching my friend's children with their father, seeing him locate and hold sea creatures for them to touch and look at, was so tangible a reminder of what we've lost. My husband would have loved this outing--he was a great one for grubbing around in seaweed on the shore, and was fascinated by the inner and outer workings of God's tiny creatures. He would have been such a great Papa in that exploratory regard, and so good at teaching our little girl not to be squeamish and girly (as I am). Once, after our cat killed a vole, my husband spent nearly an hour examining it, looking for signs of trauma, manipulating its odd, hand-like feet, before burying it with sweet ceremony in our back yard.
I've learned not to go out for dinner on Saturdays; that's family night in our world, and seeing all those "normal" families, intact families, is just too awful. (And as always, I'm not trying to denigrate the variety of families there are out there, many of which are not the heterosexual couple type whose loss I am specifically mourning.)
Even my "couple" friends are hard to take; it's difficult to spend a lovely evening, knowing that at the end of it, I will go home alone, with no one there to pour over the details of the conversation, or count the glasses of wine I had, or rhapsodize over the exquisite culinary gifts of our hosts.
Lately I find it easier to spend time with my "single" friends (some of whom are not single, but whom I tend to encounter by themselves). They are all childless, though, and I can't, by conscience or by finance, come up with the kind of endlessly available child-free time it takes to be "single" and solely in charge of my time. My daughter needs picking up from school, dinner at a certain time, bed at a certain time, and a lot of time with her Mama.
When I was married, I was loved; being loved, I felt loveable. I don't feel that way now. I feel crabby, worn out, reticent, and old. I long for the sweet daily companionship, but can't imagine anything more time-sucking and exhausting than some "new" relationship. And I can't imagine having the energy to make myself presentable in the way that a new relationship would require. I want that same old sloppy sweatpants love, the kind that already knew what was wrong with me, and had decided to stick around anyway. To me, that kind of acceptance is pretty much as romantic as it gets. It takes a long time and a lot of work to achieve, and its loss is enormous.