Being a Young Widow

This weekend something happened to make me take pause.  I know that as a young widow, I am not alone in these thoughts, but I am going to speak of the isolation, shifting of  relationships and friendships, and the reason that I am struggling with the idea of dating at all.   Very few people have words like assassination or murder in their living vocabulary.  In a strange shift of reality paradigms, I planned a funeral before my parents  and anyone in my circle.  I wasn’t even 50 and there are many other war widows far younger than I planning funerals and raising families as a single parent. 

 

With the death of Phil, every thing I knew as an adult ended.  Every dream I had ended.  Melodramatic?  Perhaps, but I spent my entire adult life following him all over the world, moving every few years.  I never allowed myself to get too attached to people or jobs because I knew that either I would leave, or the friends would leave.  I  was strong, presented the warrior  ethos attitude at home and tried to make it fun for my children, but along the way, Phil and I knew that we only had each other and our children.  Home?  Where ever he was because we never stayed very long?  We had a dream about where we were going to retire, but that is gone with him. 

 

The day that Phil’s life ended, my status changed in the military family.  I was suddenly the visible reminder of what could happen to soldiers.  Friends that we had collectively within the military system avoided me.  I realize that perhaps they did not know what to day, but the spouses often couldn’t make eye contact and the invitations stopped coming for the most part.  Other married male friends hit on me or their wives became worried that my moral compass had somehow changed. 

 

Less than six weeks after Phil died, a woman went to a general to tell that person that I was hitting on her husband.  I could barely stand up.  All I wanted was my Phil, yet I was the one told to honor his memory. I was told that there was a dating pool about how long it would take to date and remarry—all of them lost.  I was crushed.  I had been married 23 years at this point and I hadn’t been the center of gossip since 1988.  I ran away because I didn’t know what else to do.

 

After almost three years, I am in a place of wanting to think about a Chapter 2.  I believe that I received a sign from God on my darkest day.  I know that there is room in my heart to love in a new way and between the holes of my heart, yet men my age do not seem to understand that I had unknown needs when I was married to Phil.  His death has caused me to grow and to recognize that I need specific things and that there is room for another to be loved equally between those holes in my heart.  The problem is that the men I have met seem to think it is a competition.

 

I had one man tell me that he had Googled me and Phil was so nice looking and successful that he was intimidated.  Well?  I never went out with him after that because what would be the point?  I can’t reassure him at every turn that he is better than Phil or living up to Phil.  In a relationship, I am who I am because Phil loved me well and I love him well, but it does not mean that I want Phil dead smack in the middle of a new relationship.  I am involved in military loss awareness, resiliency, and I wrote a book on military loss, but it does not mean that I am stuck in the bereavement process or trying to replace Phil, it just means it is my job, my fire, and my way to impact a small change. 

 

I had another man tell me (actually two of them—the Friday Night Special guy and the Savage from Savage, Maryland) that I had needs, they had needs and why couldn’t we be  adults about it.  Another man told me to prove chemistry.  I am not sure if that worked with other women, but I am not interested in a casual sexual fling.  I think more of myself than that and maybe that is why I get so few dates.  I simply cannot be the casual sex kind of girl without the emotional attachment because it would make me a —-prostitute.  I am not that girl.

 

The there was Amish guilt boy.  We all bear scars at this age.  I recognize that we all have wounds, but I cannot do anything about mine.  The one guy I went out with a handful  of times could not get past what his ex-wife did to him.  He still felt guilty being happy and told me that he would go back to his wife if she wanted him back.  I am not the option until something better comes along. All in or all out.

 

That all in or all out option is the show-stopper in online dating.  I feel like people are shopping for the next best thing.  I also feel like only the scammers find me.  Men seem to wait for the women to pursue them, and the women do.  I am not the girl to make the first move or to chase a man.  When did the rules change?  Even on faith based sites, men want options, sugar mommas, or they want pen pals.  I am not the girl that wants to spend months e-mailing a local person who wants a Suzie Homemaker.  Yes, that happened, too.  Pony up and take a chance.

 

In the meantime, I am growing myself.  I stand rooted in hopeful confidence with the events of June 24, 2011.  On that day, I received the autopsy report of my Phil’s death.  The words did not match what I had been told.  I looked at the photos.  While normally I would have no problems with photos like this, I literally broke when I saw my husband broken beyond belief.  I crawled into bed with the blankets over my head.  I was sobbing and asking God why him and why not me.  I felt an electric jolt and I saw a bright light with me and a man in a blue suit standing in front of a minister.  I immediately rejected that picture and cried on.  I felt another zap—stronger this time.  I saw the same picture and I was terrified.  I jumped out of bed and fell in the covers.  I looked up and saw the first double rainbow I had ever seen.  I know there will be a Chapter 2, I just do not know when.

 

As I jump into my year of hope, I am going to school, working, and becoming brave.  Where I have had to do things I never thought I could do, I have discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was.  It comes down to one thing.  This is my year to be brave and to hope.  Dating is only a small part of that journey.  I am leaping into making decisions knowing that I trust who I am and the faith that carries me. 

 

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