In my brief bio here, I say “I identify as a young remarried widow.”
I use “I identify” because this is how transgendered people speak. Postmodern as it sounds, the words should tell you, not that I made a choice, but what I really feel in my heart and what I know to be true. I use trans language out of respect so no matter how I edit the blurb, I’d like to keep this phrasing.
I say “young” because, even with all my gray hair, my issues are different from those of older grieving folks. While I enjoy meeting those folks, I find true sisterhood (or brotherhood) with grieving people around my age, especially if, like me, they are raising young children.
My dual identity as both “widowed” and “remarried” makes me complicated, like my trans friends. Even though you can finally select relationship status “widowed” on Facebook, you can’t choose two statuses.
But it’s also the thing I hear the most from readers: a bunch of you have told me you love hearing that grieving doesn’t disappear and that loss can be compatible with joy. Widows are “in between” in about a dozen ways. They are glad that someone who’s been there says you can arrive at chapter two without leaving chapter one behind. It’s easier to take on a transition if you know it’ll take a long time and there’s no easy way out.
OTOH -- two statuses?-- I could be asking for too much. I have never been accused of being realistic. Mr. Fresh says he hears my dissatisfactions as the result of rising expectations and that this is a powerful force: in fact it was one of the factors responsible for the French Revolution. I acknowledge, with gratitude, that he’s right. I’ve come so far.
But society also expects me to play a public role as a widow, and as my kid's married Mom. Why has it been so hard for me to announce my wedding? Unlike many widows, I haven’t hesitated to tell people I’ve “moved on” romantically.
I eloped partially out of hostility. I refused to vet the man who was to become Mr. Fresh with family or friends. I challenged my beloved minister by asking her to marry us before she herself got married, even though she’d announced her engagement months prior (and then I requested a reading she hates). In the back of my mind, I didn’t want to let my community off the hook of caring for us, to hear them exhale with relief that we’d be okay without their help. And I didn't want to let go of the hard stuff, the tough part, either.
But maybe I’m over that. At least I can see the pattern, hear the little voice inside me. In truth, I know most of our circle smiled big and wanted the best for us. Whenever I told someone I was dating I heard genuine happiness for me and, from married Moms, vicarious excitement. In actual fact, my communities and families have held me pretty well.
I feel ready for the bona fides. Maybe once everything’s out it won’t look so complicated.
A printed announcement:
With Short Stack Fresh,
Supa Dupa Fresh and Marshall Fresh
Take great pleasure in announcing
Their union in marriage,
December 10, 2008.
The family will reside at Xxxxxxxxx.
A celebration is planned for spring 2010.
An alumni note:
Supa Dupa Fresh married Marshall Fresh on December 10, 008. They live in Sprawling Suburb with Supa’s 5-year-old daughter, Short Stack. Supa was widowed in 2006.
Note to alumni editor: please let me review any changes to this text. I don’t want anyone to think I was divorced.
And with those, I realize I owe the world more formality: I never sent Gavin’s death announcements to his alumni publications.
Gavin O’Shaunnessy, class of 1968, passed away on June 2, 2006. O’Shaunnessy’s artwork lives on in many public and private collections. He is represented by the BigDeal Gallery in SmallCity. He received ThisSchool’s Distinguished Alumnus award in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Supa Dupa Fresh, and their daughter, Short Stack.
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