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I’m at a point in my grief where I don’t want to associate too much with my status. I know that sounds strange for a widow to admit, (and maybe it doesn’t), but I’m tired of having to tell people about it. I hate how awkward it makes things. I hate how I have to gloss over things as if it’s no big deal, and go on with conversation as quickly as possible to avoid the weight of heavy pity that usually hangs around like a stench in the air.

The most obvious solution is to just not bring it up. One would think that it’s not too difficult in everyday life to avoid mentioning something so deep and heavy. I wish I could say that this is correct and that I almost never have to update even the most menial relationships to such serious business. However, this is not the case. Oddly enough, I have had to explain things to people more than I would ever want, (or expect) to. It happens a lot with other parents, in places as casual as the park, or more regularly, at my daughter’s school. Or it happens when I’m getting my oil changed on my truck. This is probably due to the fact that A. I’m a woman and stereotypes still exist regarding our knowledge of auto-mechanics in popular culture; and B. because there is a seriously high turnover rate at any of the hundreds of local service stations in my city. But it’s not just at these places or because I’m a female.

It’s the strangest thing. The more I try to avoid talking about it, the more I find myself at the dreaded crossroads of either Having To Explain That My Husband Passed Away or Just Lie and Act Like He’s Still Around.

I cannot tell you how increasingly irritating it’s becoming. It’s not something that I am faced with everyday, but at least a few times a week. As connected as I am in this town, I meet new people everyday. People who naturally pry and ask questions even in casual chat. I never knew how much information people are used to exchanging in everyday conversation. Parents talk about child rearing as easily as they talk about professional sports. Our culture has become so competitive and intrusive, that other mothers I encounter will simply ask what my situation is, or just blurt out a scenario regarding the obvious lack of a father figure at school functions, and wait for me to explain. I find myself becoming increasingly less interested in connecting with other parents, or anyone on more than a superficial level, just to avoid the inevitable awkwardness that will eventually swallow up any further conversation between us.

Sometimes, I just go along with not explaining to people that my husband is dead. I just nod my head and smile, because yes, my daughter is obviously going to be tall, and she must take after her father. And do we have anymore children? Are they all tall? Did my husband play basketball? Oh really? What does he do now?

It bothers me that I perpetuate something dishonest because it saves me from handing someone the anvil of truth that my life has become. But sometimes, I just don’t feel like reminding myself how much I’ve lost. And every time I find myself in this sort of scenario, I am truly reminded of where I wish I was, compared to where I am.

It makes it terribly difficult to “let things go” when I have to constantly identify with that part of my life. I come into society with an asterisk; a subtext of definition that sets me apart from most of society at my age. (It doesn’t help that people assume I’m a lot younger than I am, either.) And people simply don’t know what to do with it. What do you say to the woman who could easily be like anyone around her, save for one major detail. The reactions I get from people make me feel both guilty and frustrated. I have become the Queen of Changing The Subject just to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.

I don’t have a solution for this. I’m not going to pick up the defense and start swinging anytime anyone gets too nosy. I’m not going to blame someone for just talking without realizing that they’re treading on dangerous territory. But it does make my life incredibly difficult. It’s something I would have never have realized had I not been dealing with it for the past three years or so.

For now, I’m just going to keep listening, nodding and ducking the arrows while dodging the bullets. I’m going to continue the rather intimate relationship I’ve developed with my iPod, (ha), and hopefully, people will disinterest themselves in my silence, while appreciating it for its golden hue.

I’m almost three years out, and while I’m handling life fairly well, ( I think), I still have my moments of major frustration. Especially in regards to explaining things to people.

I know – Why explain? Why do strangers deserve any explanation in regards to MY life? I wish I could tell you how cool I am for not ever caring what people think about my social status, but the truth is that I am constantly comparing myself to other parents or mothers or even other wives. I want to give my children the most normal, functional life they can hope to have. And likewise, I’d like to enjoy what’s left of it. Unfortunately, the words “Single Mother” make it difficult to do in this society.

When I tell people I am a single mother, they usually nod. Some are sympathetic. Others shake their head in disgust. I’ve even had some people ask me whose fault that is, as if I should hang my head down in shame because I’m parenting children on my own.

My youngest daughter was 19 months when her father died. She knew something was different, if not wrong, because she began to really react to almost every new environment. It was hard for me, in the first few months especially, to stay focused on parenting when I could barely function myself. Whenever we were out in public, I couldn’t sit down for a meal because she couldn’t sit still. Meltdown status was always right beneath the surface for her, and my oldest and I had a hard time with the stares and the sneers. The people who obviously either had perfect children or none at all were always offended by our presence. In the mall, at the grocery store, at church – I was the mom who “obviously needed God in her life, because no Godly household would have a child acting like that.” (Yes. That was said to me once, too.)

I tried to explain myself a few times. I tried to explain that I was a widow, whose husband died very suddenly. No, he wasn’t a drug addict. (Because only drug addicts die suddenly.) And no, he wasn’t overweight. His aneurysm was genetic. I have the paperwork explaining it all. There have been many times when I felt like pulling it out and having those who so rudely commented on my life read it and understand that I had no hand in this. That I would have NEVER wanted Jon to die and leave me with two children to raise by myself. And that I know as much as anyone else (probably more so), that he was the smarter, wiser, calmer, stronger and braver one of the two of us. As much as it pains the ego to admit, I probably needed a lesson as powerful and life-changing as this one to get over myself and become the person I would much rather be.

As I become her, I realize that I owe no one any explanations. I realize that my faith in God is solid, and that He speaks for me when my life is in question. I realize that will raise my kids the BEST way I know how, through Christ who strengthens me. And Yes, it IS possible for someone to get married, divorced, married again and then widowed by the time they are 31. I am not an anomaly, and my girls are not living in a ‘broken home.” Everything in this house is in fine working order. I make sure to keep it that way.

When my children grow up and have families of their own, the only real thing that will matter is that I am their mother. That is all the explanation that anyone really needs.

She greeted me with a bright smile. Whether it was truly sincere, I’ll never know. But it was the smile I’ve seen a million times. The one that said “You’re the widow.”

“Hi. Thank you SO much for meeting me!” She started. I took a seat next to her.

“Of course!” was the only answer I had. What did she want? I assumed it was something like an interview, but I had no idea whether it was for her benefit or someone else’s.

“I wanted to talk to you…because…” And now she’s searching for the right words. We’re sitting at a shady table, and the temperature is starting to rise. She wanted to talk to me about being a widow, but she had no idea how to say it.

“Are you caring for a spouse that’s terminally ill?” I asked her, quietly.

“No! Oh, I’m not married. But my friend…her spou-husband died.” And that’s how easy it is to get to the point.

“I’d like to help her. I’d like to know what to say to her. I’ve been reading your blog, and I need to know what to do. She needs my help.” She says this very seriously. Her smile is still there, but her eyes are hard. This is hard for her.

“Is she suicidal? Is she trying to hurt herself? Does she have family?”

“She has family, and I don’t think she’s suicidal. But it’s been four months. She doesn’t eat very much and she doesn’t sleep. I’ve tried to get her to a doctor, but she doesn’t want to go. I’m worried that she might be overdoing this. I’m worried that she’s going to get very depressed and hurt herself.” I can hear the honest-to-goodness concern in her voice. And the confidence. She wants her old friend back, and it’s been four months. Something must be wrong if it’s been this long.

“I see.” And this is all I can say, in order to buy myself some time. Maybe I wasn’t the right widow to talk to about this. My mind wanders. I notice the sunlight moving toward my feet, and anticipate the warmth it will bring.

Customers come in and out of the coffeehouse with purpose and coffee. Cars are driving past, with their systems blasting rock and top forty. It’s been five minutes, and I still don’t know how to give her an answer that she doesn’t want to hear.

“Let me start by saying this…” I begin. I don’t look at her until I am ready. “It sounds to me like your friend doesn’t need the help you think she does.”

She looks at me blankly, and I get the feeling that she’s heard this before.

“In our world, where marriages dissolve more often to divorce than death, it’s hard to imagine that a widow in her 20’s wouldn’t want to get out and restart her life after a few months. But that’s only because you haven’t even experienced marriage, let alone losing a spouse to early death.  Marriage is an entire life change. Death is another. Aside from having children, nothing else changes us in ways that Marriage and Death can. These are all things one has to experience in order to understand. We can read books or watch other people go through these life experiences all day long, but until we experience them for ourselves, we really have no clue about them.”  I’ve said a lot and I wait for it to sink it. She doesn’t.

“So your saying that because I have never been married, I can’t understand how she feels? Because I know that. I’m not trying to tell her to not feel this.  I know that I don’t know what it’s like! But don’t you think that being sad for this long is excessive?” She’s already arguing.

“The average (and this is a WIDE scale), is approximately three to five years. That’s a rough estimate on how long it takes a widow or widower to accept a death and learn to live with it. There are those who don’t take as long. There are some who are so convinced that they’re over their grieving, that they remarry prematurely, and cause further damage. And there are those that don’t. I’m careful to tell people what to do with their grief, as much as I’m careful with the term: ‘move on’ because I don’t believe that people really do that. I believe they learn to live with the loss, but I don’t believe they move on from it as if it never was, or is just something in their past. Especially not a parent, or a spouse.” Once again, I try to let these words sink in. Once again, she doesn’t.

“That’s not healthy. You HAVE to move on. You can’t live in the past. The past is over with. She has to let him go! She can’t go on mourning him forever. He wouldn’t want that.” And she says this with a certain authority. I’ve heard that line so many times, I can’t count. People always know what the Dead would want, as if they are sitting there, right next to them and whispering in their ears.

“I don’t believe people go on actively mourning someone forever. I’ve known some who have a harder time with the release and the re-living part. And I know many who don’t. But the time line is relative. She’s not breaking up with a boyfriend. She’s lost a husband. I don’t even know how he died, but I can tell you it doesn’t matter. Even if she watched it happen for a year or more, it is as devastating as if he left her house one morning and just never came back. Death is final, and incredibly hard for the living. We don’t get a choice in the matter. No matter how inevitable it is, the loss of control over what happens is tragic for us.” I pause. She doesn’t argue this time.

So I continue, “You have to understand something very important. No matter how she ends up handling her grief, she will never be the same person you once knew. This is a life-changing event that has taken her far beyond your level of experience and understanding. I’m sure you’ve lost someone, or more than one someone in your life. I am sorry for your loss. But this goes beyond that. I’ve learned not to compare to other losses, but I’ve heard enough from grieving parents that the process is very similar. I believe only the loss of a child would be more painful, but I don’t know how much more.”

“So you’re saying… you don’t think she’s going to get over this?” She asks me, finally. Her face has lost all trace of the bright friendly smile that was once there. Instead, she is statue-hard, a frown etched in marble. I can’t tell if she’s relented or if she’s already closed me off.

“I’m saying that she’s a different person now. I’m saying that she needs you to love her as she is, no matter what she goes through. I’m saying that you have no control over how long her period of active grieving lasts, and the most you can do is not put pressure on her to jump back into the fast lane of life. And I’m saying that you need to give her a break. Four months is like a day in Widow Country, and she probably doesn’t even remember most of it.”

“Widow Country? Really? You look at it that way?” I’m not even angry at her arrogance. I understand that it comes from a place of complete lack of understanding. She’s on the outside, looking in, and realizing it’s uglier than she thought it was.

“I can’t wake up and have my life go back to the way it was. I LIVE here. I live in grief and healing. I live in a new reality, where my late husband is not included. I can’t change that, and I have to live with it everyday. Yes – I call it Widow Country. I live there. Every single day.”

She doesn’t say that she never realized how hard it could be, or that she’s sorry for my loss. In some ways, I am grateful for that. I wonder why she picked me, out of all the widows that are in my city, and then I realize that I only know two others. Maybe I’m the only other widow people know of, out here.

She does thank me for my time and patience. I can’t tell if I’ve really gotten through to her, or if she’s going to find someone to agree with her crusade to save her friend from further depression. Part of me wants to know who this person is, but a bigger part of me doesn’t.

I still leave my number, letting her know that I am available if they need to talk. I’m not a professional, but I’ve learned to listen. And I know what not to say. She leaves, and I stay, because the sun is going to warm my feet, and no amount of death can stop that from happening right then. I’ve learned to live in the small moments. I’ve learned to be grateful for what I can.

The secret is that it DOES get better. But only after it’s been really really bad for a long time. Only after it hurts so much we become numb to it. It gets better only after the worst. I don’t tell people this, especially in the beginning. They’re in so much pain that it doesn’t soothe them; instead only confuses them.  Because time is relative, and only time will get them there. But they will feel the warmth of the sun again. No matter how long it takes.

I’m faltering.

I’m tired of being overly positive and forward-focused when I don’t know what the heck I’m doing half the time.

But I will not give up.

I’ve faked most of my life in the past 21 months, and I realize it, by reading backwards. I can see where I chose to accentuate the good thoughts, as opposed to the bad thoughts.

And I hid the moments of utter fail, deftly beneath well-written sentiments that resemble the truth: I am faltering.

Jon was not one to be one thing, and do another. He did not pretend to be anything more than he was, at any given time. Some people saw him as the perfect friend, who never had a bad word to say about anyone. Other people saw him as the nicest guy with a wicked sense of humor. Sometimes worse than you might think.

And he was all of those things. When he came home at night to us, he was that same guy, (with the dirty humor slightly watered down), who would help anyone who needed it, wasn’t afraid to be friends with people he liked,despite general consensus, and was proud of himself and his family.

Living up to his memory seems to be harder for me to do every single day. In my parenting, my choices and decisions and just about any area of my life. I’m not quite as nice as he was to friends who irritate me. I’m not nearly as smart as he was, in that I don’t avoid problems before I walk right into them. And I am not nearly as patient as he was with our children, especially now that they are getting older and are capable of questioning my authority as a parent.

In fact, I pretty much fail at every opportunity, even though I keep trying.

And that’s all I can really do, anymore. I have stopped comparing my life to anyone else’s. I don’t know how do live like anyone but myself. And even though the majority of the world seems to prefer Jon’s way of doing things, I am what is left behind to take care of business.

And amidst all of these shortcomings and obvious failures, I refuse to give up. I don’t know what I’m going to end up accomplishing, when I make it to the other side of this journey; but I do know that I’m going to make it. By hook or by crook, I am going to survive this and join the rest of the world in living on this planet. And I am going to join my husband someday beyond it. Whether I truly deserve it or not.

Jon may have made it to perfection, in living as well as death. And I may make it by the skin of my teeth. That’s good enough for me. No matter what anyone has to say about it.

I’m really just putting myself on notice: I will not give up.

One of the most irritating things about explaining to people how I feel is that they often dismiss my explanations for depression, and insist I seek help. It’s frustrating that people are so locked into this type of thinking that they think I’m a risk to myself or my children, but not nearly enough to do anything more than “seek help”, which often includes medication.

I do not believe I’m depressed. I am not suicidal, nor am I constantly sad and unable to function. My daughters have survived this past year along with me, and are not starved, broken or in desperate need of anything. I am able to care and provide for them just fine.

But really, I don’t fit the “classic” symptoms for depression, and I don’t think I belong in that category. Yes, living on this planet without my husband is depressing, and I loathe to do it. I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind about this. And wishing my life and it’s purpose were already fulfilled so I can get the heck out of here, does not constitute depression.  I have reasons for this:

A. I have a ton of friends. I don’t isolate myself from them, and even though I don’t see everyone of them all the time, (which would be impossible), their presence in my life is quite fulfilling. The vast majority of my friends are made up of very supportive and loving people. Even though I’m the only widow out of our social group; all of them have gone out of their way to understand what I’m going through.  I am SO INCREDIBLY BLESSED. If I really needed it, I could call on just about all of them at anytime, and they would do what they could to help me to the best of their ability. I don’t feel like I don’t have any hope. On the contrary, I have been given every opportunity for hope. If Jesus were to display His eternal love in physical evidence; it would not surprise me that He used the people who call themselves my friends, Christian and non, to prove to me that He’s got things in control.  Their friendship humbles me.

B. I believe in an “Afterlife”. I coin this term loosely, because the word “Afterlife” seems to convey a dream-like state where everything is less real. I don’t believe that the life that continues after this one is less-real in anyway. In fact, I believe it becomes MORE real when we get there. Just because we don’t use THIS body to exist on that plane or state of consciousness, does not indicate that we don’t end up in a different body, that seems just as solid and physical as the one we use here. This entire existence is all subject to a very selfish perspective. There is so much we don’t know and understand right now, and it’s arrogant to assume that things are better as an Earth-bound citizen, as opposed to a Heavenly one. This is just what I believe. Believing means I accept it and it alters my thought process. I don’t see a problem with this. Wanting to be there instead of here does not mean I am suicidal.

I had a conversation last night about this, and I adamantly explained that I am NOT suicidal. My rather wise friend replied, “…It’s because you believe it takes away your chances to see him again.” I couldn’t respond to what they said right away, because I knew it was true. Why would I want to risk that if I believe it?  And it’s also incredibly selfish. No offense to those that have suffered through that kind of death, but I am far too important to the people that love me to kill myself. Even if I didn’t believe that sticking it out ensures reuniting with Jon, my children and family would be devastated. I’ve had weak moments. I will not lie about that. But my chemicals are balanced and I am not overwhelmed by them. Suicide is not an option for me, no matter how hard life becomes. And I really hope I don’t have to test that theory. :X

Finally, I do believe that I have a purpose. I don’t know what that purpose includes or even is, but I have learned that everyone has one. The problem with finding it has to do with being available. This is something I learned from my husband, who dealt with Death too many times. I think losing his father and best friend too early in life taught him to make himself available NOW, instead of later. Jon was always ready to help anyone. He’d go out of his way to offer rides, to help people move, to thank people, to listen to them, to call them on the phone, to text them, to chaperon, to fix their computers, to rock them to sleep…the list goes on and on. If he lacked, he did not complain. I’m not trying to make him sound like a saint, because he too, had clay feet. But Jon understood that while he was on this planet, he would live his life and make sure he was available for whatever came in his path.

Most people believe that we’re called to live life to “the fullest”, which almost always seems to include “What is best for ME???”. I think we miss the whole idea.  It binds us here, to the present and keeps us focused on all the wrong ideas. Then we run around in circles trying to figure why we’re so unhappy, when we spend all our time focused on ourselves and our own needs.

I think I understand that while I am here, my own desires and dreams pale in comparison for what I can do for other people. The idea of life is to be available. To be less concerned with what I’m getting out of it than what I’m putting into it. Right now, I’m not putting enough into it to stop worrying about when I’m getting out of it. If anything, THAT is my problem.

I am sad, most of the time. I am often wistful or distracted by how much I miss my husband. And if I had my choice, I would gladly close the book and let it all go. But I haven’t made myself available enough to live, yet. I haven’t experienced the joy of fulfilling my purpose. And when I am envious of those that pass before me, it is only because I know that they have. Even if it’s not evident to everyone around them; they have completed their task and are onto the next adventure.

I have a lot to do, yet, before I can get to where I’m going. It both scares and excites me. But it doesn’t take away the anticipation I have to see my Father, and all those who made it before I did. That is not depression, folks. That is hope.

For most people, the new year starts in January.

For me, it has started now. My “new year” started when I passed the first anniversary of my husband’s death. I feel as though I’m starting over, but it’s not the same as getting a “fresh start”.

I feel like I’m a sophomore. Like I’m in the midst of this, and I’ve got a lot of work to do to prepare for my next few years as a widow. I don’t think there’s a graduation, but maybe just a degree in knowing how to live in this new reality.

Most things haven’t changed. I still miss Jon more than ever. And that pain is still acute. I don’t feel as though I am comfortable with “moving on”, but subconsciously, I hate the idea of being alone. This causes incredible personal battles that I deal with all the time. I can’t foresee a happy future alone, but I don’t want anyone but Jon. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s the same all the time. I’m caught between the inevitable and what I want to hold on to. I don’t want to let Jon become a part of my past when he’s so much a part of my present. I still refer to him in everything I do, and I still think about him about most of the day.

But I have come through something. I think it’s the first part of healing. I’ve come to accept that I am a widow. It’s part of my identity. I don’t like it, and I wish things were different, but it is reality. This is something I really struggled with. When I would get a glimpse of this reality, it would trip me out and I would crumble from the sharpness of it.

I still have a hard time believing Jon is “gone.” But I know that in the most Earthly and human sense of the word, he is.

It hurts so much to admit that. To say to myself, Jon will not experience this with me, or Jon has nothing to do with this new thing. I feel like the more I do without him, the more I am leaving him behind. I don’t want to disclude his input or ideal from my life. I want to live it the way he would approve of. I have no idea if this is healthy or not. But I am not fighting it.

The next twelve months will probably be harder than the last. The shock and fog of everything is gone. I’m not living in this strange awareness where I somehow function but on a very distracted level. Instead I am completely aware of how broken I am, and how much I need to heal. I have a long way to go. And I know I’ll experience a few setbacks.

I’m worried about the warnings I’ve gotten from a few widowed friends. Some of their social group have chosen to dismiss them, because they’re not over their grieving. (As if anyone could be) They tell me to expect this. Most people don’t want to deal with it after a year. Who can blame them? If I could simply feel better about everything at exactly one year, I’d probably go for it.

But it’s not realistic, despite what people want to believe. And I know that certain people, either in my family or outside of it, will hit their limit of support. And I know from experience that some of my friends will be so frustrated at my pace that they’ll edge me out. While this scares me, I think I can handle it. I don’t have the energy to fight that battle too.

I have to take it all in stride and keep going. I know I have a purpose. I know I have things to do, that will probably come to define me in the months and years to come. Hopefully, there will be a new season for happiness and friendships. And a new season to look forward to good days.

Until then, my “resolutions” include working through the things I don’t want to accept, and learning to be OK with who I am now.

I’m at the point where I just want to toss my coins in the air, and let them land. I’m grateful for the people who care without prejudice. That’s all I really need anyway.

It’s amazing how people run from the word “Widow”

Normally, they don’t know what to say when you tell them that your husband recently died.

“How recent?”

“Two weeks ago.”

That usually ends the conversation right there. It’s like the pall of death follows me wherever I go. I feel dishonest if I don’t tell someone, because I still wear my rings. I feel dishonest for still wearing my rings.

I refuse to take them off, however. I don’t necessarily consider myself single, although I suppose, after filing taxes this year, I’ll have to start filing single in the years following. What a horrible thing to look forward to.

I haven’t changed my status on any of the social networking sites I’m on. I haven’t signed on his accounts to change his status. He’s forever married. I’m stuck in Limbo.

The thing is, the recently widowed never wanted to be single. It’s not like the harsh choice of divorce that puts us in our predicament. We’re not moving out of a bad relationship, and we’re not trying to reinvent our identity.  Instead, our future is stolen from us. Our promises and dreams of a life with the one person we chose to live it with are taken away, either abruptly, as in my case, or gradually. When our spouses are gone, we are left wondering if our loyalties and feelings for them even matter. It’s no surprise that I love my husband immensely. I have no attraction to any other man at this point. And before he died, his love was reciprocal. He loved me the same way, and we envisioned a future together that included having our grandchildren over to play. We looked forward to having one more child, and completing our family. We wanted to see our kids walk down the aisles of graduation, marriage and their futures.

And God’s divine hand somehow decided that we weren’t allowed to enjoy those plans.

Instead, He gave me the title of “Widow”, and all the stigma that comes along with it. It scares people. It makes them see me as pitiful and old. Widows are women who are 80+ years old, simply waiting to follow their husbands in death. They are not fertile, growing women, barely in their thirties, with young children to raise. They don’t have youthful faces and look ten years younger than their age. They don’t show up at clubs and they don’t have a myspace.

As it stands, I’ve only recently met other widows my age, and none of which are in my city. (If there are widows under 40 in this town, I haven’t met them) No one knows how to relate to them. My coupled friends can only relate to me through the marriage of my most recent past. They knew my husband, and speak as though we’re still married, and he’s just gone for awhile. While I recognize their need to avoid the subject of death, they don’t realize how I cannot talk to them about simple, annoying things in their marriages. I don’t have those things anymore. I don’t have a husband to complain about, or to argue with. I don’t have a husband to make dinner for, or wash clothes for. My husband’s clothes sit in a hamper in my closet, because I cannot bear to wash him away yet.

I belong to a minority that I never wanted to join. I’m a women who is missing a part of herself, and through no fault of my own, must live with this stigma; this punishment, regardless of how much I hate it.

I cannot envision another future other than the one I had. The reality is harsh, like the mornings. Jon will no longer be here to participate in life with me. I will no longer be able to hold him, or have him hold me, when things get rough. They ARE rough, and he is not here to ride me through it.

And for those who insist on telling me that he’s “always with me”, put yourself in my shoes, please. He is NOT here. He may exist in Glory with The Almighty, and I do believe that. But Jon’s time on this planet is finished. He was called Home, and I am left to continue on until it is my time. I’m honestly sick of people telling me how he’s always with me. Because it’s not comforting. If anything, it’s frustrating. It’s as if people keep telling me that he’s “right there! Look!” and when I do, I don’t see anything at all. If I’m constantly looking for him, I end up stuck and unable to function with just the normal tasks for the day. As much as I hate to say it on my own; Jon is gone. He was my everything, but he isn’t here anymore. I have to learn to live my life without him.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not because it hurts more than anything, but because I have no control over it. I carry this stigma without choice and it is my future, regardless of how badly I want to go back in time and change things. I don’t have that control. Only God does, and His ways don’t usually include time travel and changes during the instant replays.

I’m starting to realize that my future is a stigma. I am a widow, and in Jon’s absence, I am left as a non-wife, and a single mother.

The trick is to learn how not to scare people away when I tell them what I’ve become.