"Being a widow is great!" Said no-one ever.
There are no perks to being a young widow. (Unless you count being able to make any stranger feel instantly awkward by mentioning it, or you particularly like scammers sliding into your DMs!)
On the surface of it, I have a pretty good life. I have a lovely house, in a beautiful location, two gorgeous and adoring dogs, and a great relationship with my two daughters and my extended family including my in-laws. I have a good job, with a salary that keeps food on the table, and I can cover my bills. I have many wonderful friends. I am "hashtag blessed”. In fact I have a lot that other young widows don't have.
I’m generally ok, not obscenely happy, not worryingly sad… I mainly exist in a weird neutral gear in which I can enjoy my many privileges, while feeling sad for my loss. I can feel happiness, and I can feel grief, but I don’t feel that I “am” either of them. I write my 3 wins every day, and I try to maintain a positive outlook, but underlying and overshadowing it all is this one fact.
I hate being a widow.
So what exactly is it that I hate? It’s not the title or even the status. While there is always a sinking feeling when I have to tick the widowed box on a form, by now it’s not that dissimilar to when I have had to tick the next box on the list of age ranges! I also recognise that I am fortunate to have that legal status; for people who were not legally married, even those who were together for longer than Chris and I, they don’t have a name for it or a box other than single.
I think it’s partly what becoming a widow has done to me. The loss of confidence and sense of fear and anxiety where it wasn’t before, the constant exhaustion, the shadow of sadness on even the happiest of days, the unexpected days of being, even so many months later, completely floored by a wave of grief. It’s carrying forever the experience, the trauma even, of those few short months of his illness and those last days of his death. It’s the loss of what we had together and knowing that this has now become part of who I am. It’s having a husband that I loved completely, who is now dead. It’s the responsibility of building a life around that grief.
The thing is, I really liked being a wife (and a partner before that). I loved having a team-mate, a co-parent, a sounding board, but it was so much more than that. It was home, it was safety, it was love. Chris believed in me, supported and encouraged me, and now and then forced me out of my comfort zone. And being a widow means that all those things are gone.
Although I would admit that I am often lonely, it’s not that I actually mind being “single” (and I certainly don’t have the motivation to start on the minefield of dating again). There are definite advantages in being able to watch, read or listen to anything I like, spend my money on what I want, and not have to factor in anybody else’s needs!
But while I'm ok with my life as it is, there is no escaping from the fact that still, 3 years on, I simply miss Chris.
I miss the way that he would catch the spiders and tell me off for cowering in the corner and suggesting he squish them. I miss the way he would do things in the house without being asked, but would expect a medal if he did one of “my” chores! I miss how he would bring me coffee in the morning, and I miss the fancy meals that he used to make when it was just us home for an evening. I miss his shouting at newsnight and insisting on watching quiz shows like university challenge and QI, even though I now love bingeing on Line of Duty, or Grey’s Anatomy and haven’t watched any quizzes for months! I miss his enthusiasm when he discovered a new band, or a favourite artist released a new album or tour. I miss his cheerleading for me, and his hugs on my down days. This last month in particular I have missed his love of football and his hatred of racism. I miss how his eyes would change colour depending on his mood or the weather. I miss his grumpy moods, and his smile. I miss my best friend, my team mate and my partner in crime.
And I hate being a widow because I hate that he is dead.