Dinnertime is where we have our most interesting conversations.
It hasn’t always been this way. For many years I just survived dinnertime with small kids, and the year Shawn died I don’t think I had one real conversation over a meal with the kids. But eventually my dad and I settled on a dinner routine. When Chris arrived this spring, he helped cement it even further. Every night, we go around and say our highs and lows for the day, which usually leads us into longer conversations.
The other day, I was talking about how I had connected with another young widow and it made me feel good to talk to her because I felt like I was helping her learn how to cope with her situation, at least a little bit. “It helps, I think, when a new widow can talk to another widow.”
“But mama,” Claire said, “Will you still be a widow after you marry Chris?”
I paused, and looked at Chris. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say.
“Well,” Chris said, “what do you think?”
Austin answered first. “Once you’re a widow, you’re always a widow.”
“No,” Claire said, “I think you’re done with being a widow when you get married again.”
“What’s the answer, mom?” Austin asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “but I do know widows who have gotten married again. Some of them feel they are still widows, and some don’t. I think it depends. For me, I think I’ll still identify the word ‘widow’ as part of who I am, even if what I put on forms changes to ‘married.'”
“I think for your mom, being a widow is about having an experience,” Chris said. “So, your mom had the experience of losing a partner, which means she identifies with the word ‘widow.'”
We explained to the kids that not everyone feels this way, and that people should get to choose how they identify themselves. It led to an interesting discussion about how we see ourselves and our family.
“But,” Claire asked eventually, “even if you keep saying you’re a widow, you do have a partner now. So what do you do with your blog? Do you just write random things about your life now?”
I laughed. “I guess that’s kind of what I’ve always done,” I said.
It was a child’s comment, not meant to be complex, but made me think. Is there a point to this blog now that I’ve processed a lot of my grief, and now that I have a new partner in my life? Am I just getting into gratuitous over-sharing-suburban-mom territory here? Does anyone really need to read about my daily life now, even widows?
I’m not sure. I don’t know whether I’ll stop the blog in the future. But I do know this: I still get a lot of fulfillment out of writing it. I still love that people – especially other widows – can find connection with my life, and (maybe) even see one path forward from horrible grief to imperfect healing.
And maybe the blog will change. I guess it already has, somewhat. There is still a lot in the archives where I process my own grief (for examples, see April 2018, January 2019 and March 2019 – to start) and I still have times (when I hear a certain song, for example, or see an old photo) when I am reminded of Shawn and feel a heavy pang of loss. He has not been erased from my life, or from the kids’ lives.
I guess this all means that I have no idea what the blog will be going forward. Maybe 2021 will be the last year for this blog, or maybe not. In the meantime, I hope it will continue to be a space where I can share the experience of loss – and healing – with my readers, as I try and figure out what’s next.
It’s a bit of a crazy statement, anyway, because we never really know what’s next, do we? We can just take some guesses, make the best plans we can and try to process the lives we have.
Which I suppose is what I do here: just write random stuff about my life. I’m glad that there are still people who want to read it.