I'm a widow. I never thought I would say these words. I never thought I would say them in my 40s. Widows are supposed to be old women contemplating the end of their lives.
I've recently watched a few films about soldiers returning home and it dawned on me that our lives are molded by that which happens to us. Soldiers after seeing extreme violence, injustice, fear and deplorable conditions find solace in each other not because they come from the same town, know each others families or even share the same believes. They find solace because they went through the same psychological wounds. They all know what happened without any need for an explanation. They understand each other in a visceral way.
I remember years ago when by a set of mismanagement of information and conduct by others, I ended up spending time with a woman, at the time in her 30s, who was dying because her organs and skin had lost the ability to stretch. I used to tell her to look for others who were in the same situation as she was because they would understand her and she would find a community with them. I could talk to her and have compassion but I couldn't really fully understand emotionally what she was going through specially because then I hadn't gone through the depths of suffering and loss I would eventually go through.
I'm a widow.
I used to think widows and widowers were sad people who spend the remainder of their lives pining for the person gone.
I'm a widow.
Sometimes I'm very sad; a special kind of sadness; profound, simple and quiet. But I also have a great desire to live life and to make it meaningful. I now know life's worth.
I have a friend who has had a leg and a hip amputated because of cancer. I truly don't know what it is to live the kind of life she does, but unlike how it was with my other friend, I now have a deep understanding of pain and hers doesn't scare me anymore. I can offer her and receive from her more than I could many years ago.
I met someone on a hiking trail who had just faced death and will spend the rest of her life fighting it off. I listened to her, she listened to me and neither of us were victims, we were just strong women sharing our lot with each other.
When my husband passed away I wanted so much to find something positive in all we had gone through and all that I had lost but I kept saying to friends and family that I was still the same person I had been before Chris had gotten sick. But eventually I realized I was wrong. It is impossible to go through something devastating and remain the same. In my case I believe I have developed a new level of compassion and have in a way turned my loss into something of worth; I write about it and hope it resonates with others and inspires them to have the courage to be truthful, and to realize peace comes from knowing oneself.
So this Sunday when many lovers will send gifts and share kisses I will embrace the person that I am, the person life has shaped and I will promise her to be by her side and to love and understand her till the very end.
Happy Valentine's Day.