From the minute I was told that Phil was dead I have been tortured by things I could not do. Initially, the fact that no amount of hoping, denying, praying, or screaming was going to bring him back to life haunted my days. I was obsessed with the idea that the world would be whole again only when someone with a magic wand brought me back my husband.
As the months dragged on my focus on what I couldn’t do morphed into a terrible jealousy of any seemingly happy person passing by: families out for a walk, Dads playing ball in the front yard, couples out to dinner on a Saturday night, anyone who dared to hold hands in front of me, and especially little old couples helping each other in and out of cars. My imagination would run wild, and I created dozens of blissfully happy scenarios for these people I viewed through my “I can’t have what you have” lens.
These kind of feelings don’t plague me as much anymore. I am able to allow other people to be happy in my presence without wanting to kill them (I am quite proud of this),and I don’t find myself counting the ways my life is horrible very often.
But every once in awhile when life gets overwhelming I fall back into listing the things robbed from me by my widowhood. Saturday was one of those days. I set out to run 12 miles for my marathon training. I was tired, hadn’t eaten as much as I should have, was leaving behind a long list of things to do, and was generally not in the mood to spend almost two hours running. The park I chose for my run was filled with families. I found myself silently telling the men I noticed being chased by their children or kicking a soccer ball on the field to be sure they watched their cholesterol so they could limit the chances of dying young and torturing their families with their untimely death. As I ran past a party merrily hitting a pinata, I mentally warned the group to be sure to avoid death by head trauma delivered by a wayward bat. After a few minutes of this kind of grim thinking, I laughed out loud. Bitter widow.
There is plenty of time for self-reflection on a long run, and as I looped around a lovely portion of the trail I realized that I was missing Phil. Damn it, he was supposed to be doing this training with me. This was his crazy idea. Why am I left to run for hours on end with no partner? Where is he when I need him? How am I going to get through all of this alone? It seems entirely unfair that he can just float along by my side, and I am the one doing all the hard work. This realization brought a few tears with it, and then the trail opened up. The sun was shining, illuminating the blanket of grass inspired by the recent rains. There was a soft breeze blowing gently into my face. My legs work, I am capable of running. I reminded myself that I have been managing the training along with all the other daily things I do. The kids haven’t starved, the house hasn’t fallen down, and since I have become a widow my world has grown in ways I would have never dreamed. Okay, I have a lot to be grateful for even though my husband is dead.
At the end of my run it occurred to me that marriage and widowhood are both for better or for worse. Sometimes I have to choose to focus on the better part.
(This photo proves the point that life has brought me some fantastic opportunities…how many people get to pose with their vegetarian daughter in front of the Wienermobile??)