Sunrise for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
Things That Suck

Warning: Bad Things Happen to Me

The other day, I was emailing with a widow friend of mine who had something terrible happen to her – another issue that occurred after the already traumatic death of her partner. I was sympathetic, or at least that’s how I felt and I tried to show her that. “Geez, universe!” I wrote, “Isn’t widowhood enough?”

We laughed a bit about that, but she was still really down. Why did bad things keep happening to her?

I really felt for her. I’ve thought that a lot in my life – that bad things just happen to me.

It is, of course, completely true and not true at all. It’s completely true because, well, bad things have happened to me! I grew up with a depressed mother who died by suicide, I struggled as a young adult to find my place in the world and when I finally did, my husband died and left me a single mom with three little kids. See! Bad things do happen to me. But this statement doesn’t really work, because lots of good things have happened to me as well. To start, I was born in America, and I got an education and married someone lovely and had three healthy kids. I’ve got a great extended family and I found a second love who makes me so happy. Life is full of bad things, and if I look around, I know I don’t have it the worst. I know I’m lucky in many ways.

But here’s the thing. Even if you know that you’re lucky, there are some days as a widow when you can feel like the world just conspires against you.

When Chris and I were first dating, he had someone say something to him along the lines of, “does it make you nervous to date a widow?” He laughed. I didn’t kill my husband! Did that person actually think that I had some sort of curse? Maybe. Luckily, Chris didn’t believe that I was tainted with bad luck.

Even if I think it sometimes.

I know that as a young widow, when one big thing goes wrong, it can feel like everything is going wrong. One phrase I’ve sometimes found myself saying?

Of course this happened to me!

And yes, lots of people have bad things happen to them, but no matter, it can seem like your own life is the worst when you’re the only young widow you know. It can make you nervous about the world. If this one, huge, terrible thing happened to you, isn’t it logical that it must be because you somehow attract bad luck? That’s certainly what people in ancient societies thought. It’s what some widows around the world still face today.

But it’s not true. Yes, if you’re a young widow, you may feel like bad things just happen to you. I get that. But I’m here to tell you something that is 100% true: You’re not some sort of weird attraction for bad things. You’ve had some bad luck – some very bad luck – but that’s it. You aren’t destined to have bad luck in all aspects of your life.

I often say, “it’s not you, it’s me” when explaining my emotions. However in this case, it’s not you, and it’s not me. It’s just life, and as my dad says, life is sometimes unfair. Yes, you had some really shitty bad luck. But you’re not cursed. You’re just human. And being human means you might get some bad – or really bad – luck. Still – let’s remember this: Being human also means that tomorrow you could wake up tomorrow to some really good luck.

Okay, fine, it might not happen. You might continue to have some bad things happen in your life. Being a widow hasn’t given me any sort of immunity from terrible life events.

What it has given me is just a bit of perspective, a perspective I can’t always see when I’m feeling down. Still, when I’m feeling like the world is against me and that I’ll never have anything go my way, I often wake up early to sneak into my kids’ rooms and watch them breathe. Then I will make a steaming cup of coffee and wait for the sun to peek out from the horizon.

And as I do, I remind myself that good things happen to me, too.

4 Comments

  • Jennifer

    I am so glad I found your blog. Reading your passages gives me hope for the future.
    I turned 40 this year and 2 days later I was a widow with a 14, 12 and 7 year old. I manage my days fine and my kids keep me busy but I have my daily cries to let my emotions out.

    • M Brimley

      Oh, I think daily cries are the most normal thing that a new widow does. I think it’s the only way to get through the days. I’m thinking of you. The early days are really, really hard.

  • Randy Read

    Hi Marjorie: I married Anne, who was widowed twice (1st cancer, 2nd killed by a drunk driver, both at age 27) before we married. I was friends with her 2nd husband, which is how we met. When we began to talk about that maybe we could become more than friends, she said to me, “All the men I sleep with die.” She actually used more earthy language than what I quoted, but the intended warning was clear. At age 24, I thought that maybe the 3rd time would be the charm. After I turned 28, annually on my birthday, I would brag that “I alone survived.” She died 4+ years ago, and we had 40 years together, have 2 grandsons, and had a good time, most of the time.

    I’m happy for you and Chris and your children and extended family. I was jealous when you and Chris first got together, but came around quickly, because I believe in love. And I hope you post some wedding pictures.

    And your writing is a source of comfort and occasionally, inspiration. And I hope you continue.

    • M Brimley

      Yes, I think this is a common feeling among widows – that we bring bad luck and death. But I love your story about your wife. I too believe in love, as does my dad, and he never remarried. We all find different paths, I know. And of course, there will be wedding photos to come! Thanks for your kind words.

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