This Time of Year

 Cooler mornings. Leaves changing. Pumpkin patches in front of the churches. Fall has arrived. I used to love this time of year. In many ways, I still do. But mostly I find myself more emotional, breaking down into tears without warning. I know why this happens, I just wonder when it will stop catching me off guard.

It’s been eight years since my life changed. I went from being a wife to being a widow. Widow is a word that I had never given much thought to before that fateful day in October of 2004. Widows were old women with gray hair, or so I thought until I became one.

In those first days after Steve died, I vaguely remember someone bringing over pumpkins and carving them with my children. There were small pumpkins placed at the accident site along with the flowers that were left there. The makeshift cross bearing Steve’s name, the firefighter’s jacket. All of the ways that our friends and family tried to make sense of what happened to him. A memorial born out of intense grief. I didn’t venture out to that intersection until several days after the accident. It was after most of our friends and family had left to return home to their lives that I went there to see the broken glass still in the roadway. The broken glass very much like my life….how would I pick up the pieces with my two small children, a baby on the way, and suddenly without my life partner?

Halloween came and my children went trick or treating with my cousin. I tried to hand out candy until a neighbor stopped by and offered me her “words of wisdom.” She said, “Don’t worry, you’ll remarry again. It’s like getting divorced, you can never imagine getting married again and then you do.” I was widowed. It was NOT like a divorce. I had no choice in the life I was thrust into by Steve’s death. I closed my door and turned out my light. I couldn’t give out anymore candy and pretend to be happy. I was only NINE DAYS into my journey of widowhood.

So the fall changed into winter and one year passed into another. In these eight years, I’ve learned that widows aren’t just old women with gray hair. They’re young women like me, trying to raise our children without their fathers. Women like me who are “only” parents, not “single” parents. Women like me who make mistakes and sometimes try to numb their pain. But eight years has also taught me that I can be happy on my own, that I can be there for my children and still take care of myself, that it’s okay to fall in love again. I have come to a place in my life where I can look into my future without fear. I can see happiness ahead and I like what I see.

Why, then, does this time of year continue to wreak havoc on my emotions? Perhaps it’s the reminder of where I was eight years ago and how far I’ve come since then that makes me feel like crying? The realization that I can see my future without Steve that makes me sad….knowing that I’ve begun to heal from the wounds caused by October 22nd, 2004. I don’t feel broken anymore and it’s good to be whole again.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. t
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 14:21:44

    Bless you on your journey. Stay whole, continue to live until you do have grey hair.

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  2. Rose Chimera
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 07:54:43

    Life does go on doesn’t it? Even if we want it to stop sometimes. I always almost dread this time of year. Fall. My husband Mike died at the beginning of November. But I remember being in the hospital with him on Halloween. Seeing people wander the hallways in costumes was a little strange, almost surreal. I do remember thinking…wow…there’s a psych ward here what will the patients think if they see some of these crazy costumes? You’re mind goes to silly and strange places when you have hours and hours of just sitting and staring at walls.

    This time of year ushers in for me a feeling of sadness. I am able to fake it pretty well now and yes even find some happiness and things to smile about. But Mike is still very much on my mind. That he is gone is VERY much on my mind.

    I have made a million mistakes trying to negotiate my way through this widowhood passage way. Like you I tried to numb my pain whenever it threatened to rise up and overwhelm me. But in the end I realized the only way past it is through it.

    Also like you, I do find it amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come. I’m not where I want to be but at least I’m not where I used to be.

    I am glad for you that you don’t feel broken anymore, that’s a horrible feeling isn’t it?

    My hope and wish for you is that you do finally become peaceful with the changes and that happiness comes knocking on your door; that you are an old gray haired lady with lots of grand babies sitting on your lap, loving, nurturing people to keep you company and the label of widow just isn’t present in your life anymore.

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