11.17.2010

Veterans


How does Mr. Fresh feel about you calling yourself a widow? Other people ask me all the time, so one day I asked him: do you mind that I continue to do widow community activities and occasionally (when it’s appropriate) I still call myself a widow in public. We’ve already discussed his comfort at being surrounded by so many of Gavin’s things, including his artwork — he knows that stuff is never going to the Salvation Army — and about raising Gavin’s daughter. Those were dealbreakers early in our relationship.

But is my ongoing widowhood an irritant to him? Is it annoying to be married to someone who does widow things all the time? Does it bother him that most of the people I hang out these days with have shared this experience?

He hesitated just long enough to get the right relaxed confidence in his voice: “No.” It was going to be a man’s answer. “If you had fought in a war together, and twenty or thirty years later you mostly socialized with your combat buddies, the folks who’d saved your life, no one would think twice about it. If you felt closest to people who’d been in your division, if you spent afternoons at the VFW, and visited battlefields on vacation, we wouldn’t blink an eye. We’d call you veterans.”

So you really think losing a spouse is like fighting in a war?

“It’s pretty much like that, yes. For veterans, even after the war is over, it’s still a vivid series of events for you, probably the biggest thing that happened to most of you. It required huge adjustments and helped form who you are. Your loss is part of you. Just like with a veteran, your war years can be incorporated into your life without disruption. And if you were working in the field, you’d just be career military; many people are, our country relies on them.

“I have nothing to be jealous of.”

How grateful I am for a partner who takes life and loss seriously.

And thanks for fighting by my side, friends. Let’s raise a glass to many years of peace.

11 comments:

throughawidowseyes said...

What a perfect answer. No wonder you were able to love him.

Erin said...

So wonderful. <3

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

I'm very lucky to have someone so articulate, and so wise about tough times, yes!!

Michele Neff Hernandez said...

Um, I love Mr. Fresh. That is all.

Sue Gaff said...

Lucky for all of us he is so understanding. That is wonderful he feels like that. What a guy. That would be my Mike.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great way of looking at us...as veterans that have been through a war. And this is one helluva war. Never thought of that comparison. Very appropo.

I also want to say you're very lucky to have found Mr. Fresh. I'm sure that most men would never put up with another man's things in their house, let alone their wife's heart.

Maria said...

That is SO beautiful!!! What a guy!

Jill Schacter said...

To many years of peace, indeed. I wish that for you. Thanks for continuing to remember "the biggest thing that happened", and helping all of us recover from battle. Mr. Fresh sounds like a great guy.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

What a solid relationship you and Mr F build based on reality, with all its inconsistencies and complications.

annie said...

You are fortunate to have a husband who backs you fully in your calling to work with the widowed.

My husband, who is also widowed, thinks that we are people who were widowed. Now we are husband and wife. I agree with him.

My personal take is that we aren't widows in the present tense verb once we commit to a new relationship and then marry. It's something that happened to us (or rather to our spouses - I really don't think I came out on the short end of the deal when my late husband died. He's the one who had to be sick, suffer and depart after all. I was collateral damage at best and that makes me a veteran of precisely nothing.)

I am in solidly in the silent majority on this - minus the "silent" part:)

I know people who've gone into grief work because of a loss - children and babies usually - and it takes a very focused, determined person to balance living with a career that is death/mourning.

Veteran is an interesting analogy, but I didn't fight a war. I survived one. And that's different.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Yeah, I agree that I am more "someone who was widowed" than a "remarried widow," but each identification has its uses.

Fighting vs. surviving... I still feel I fought, though obviously not the same war as Gavin did. I absolutely got the sweet end of the lollipop.

Thanks, as always, for sharing your ideas and experiences.

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