Sometimes I feel like the Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer of the widowed.
Rudolph was an outcast, with his bright and shiny red nose that everyone made fun of, and he felt lonely and isolated, even amongst other reindeer. His best friend, Hermie, was also an outcast. He was an elf that dreamt of being a dentist. All the other elves made fun of him because he didn’t want to make toys for Santa. He and Rudolph sang a silly duet in that Christmas cartoon classic that asked the question: Why Am I Such a Misfit?
That is me. A misfit. The widowed community has taken me in and treated me so kindly and warmly – and I love my widowed family that I never wanted or asked for – I truly do. But sometimes, I just feel like I’m …. different. Like I don’t actually belong here. Like maybe there was some mistake in the books …
There are many reasons that I feel this way, many reasons I sense this overwhelming loneliness and isolation, or this feeling of not quite relating to other widowed people’s feelings or emotions on things. First off, I do not have children. We wanted them – someday. But we were married merely 4.5 years and in no financial position yet to have them – and then he randomly dropped dead for no reason, and , well – there goes that dream.
I know there are other widowed people without kids, but a lot of times it doesn’t feel that way. It often feels like I spend a good chunk of my time entering rooms (virtual or real) where groups of widowed parents are having some sort of conversation about their kids. Widowed people with kids, when they get together, talk about their kids. A lot. They talk about how 7 year old Johny is doing with the loss, or how 2 year old Sammy won’t ever know who her mother is, or how 18 year old Ellen is graduating high-school next week, and doesn’t have her daddy there with her. Of course widowed people with kids talk about their kids. I’m certainly not faulting them for this. I’m just tired of feeling like a third wheel with absolutely nothing to add to the conversation except for a well-timed: “I don’t have any kids”, which usually brings down the room to a lovely shade of awkward.
One time, a few months after my husband died, I decided to attend a Support Group out on Long Island. I was still living in New Jersey at the time, in our old apartment, and I had Don’s old, beat up car. So I had to drive over 90 minutes just to attend this meeting, but I was that desperate to talk to other people who understood this life. When I got there, everyone went around and talked about their story, and then the group leader, who has 2 children, brought up something about her kids. Before I knew it, everyone was having a conversation about their children, and how they are coping with the loss. They didn’t even notice I was in the room, honestly. We sat there for almost 2 hours, and they managed to not only discuss various kid-related topics, but also plan a future widowed-people “play date” at a nearby park so that all their kids could meet one another and enjoy the day. How lovely for them. But what about me? When I go home, I am truly, 100% alone. Just me and my thoughts. I really needed to talk that night, yet nobody in that room even saw me.
I walked out of that room feeling ten times worse than when I walked in, because now, I was faced with not only the loss of my husband, but the loss of our dreams of a family – the family I will never have. I’m 41, and I was widowed at 39. The odds aren’t looking too good on me ever being a mother, considering the facts that I’m still living on “Broke-ass Mountain”, and I have NO desire to date, yet no desire to raise a child by myself either. I’m doing my best to accept that those dreams are dead, but it’s not fun when it’s constantly being shoved in your face. It just seems like it is automatically “assumed” by the widowed community, thateveryone has children. I often hear other widowed people say things like: “Well, we must do it for our children”, or, my favorite: “If I didn’t have my children, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.” Well, thanks for pushing that stake into my heart a little further, by reminding me once again that I have no real reason to keep existing, no child to take care of, no face to look into and see Don’s blue eyes and beautiful soul. .
As if not having kids doesn’t make me feel like enough of a misfit, there is also the whole God thing. I am not religious. At all. I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself an atheist, because I do believe there is some sort of higher power. I just don’t pretend to know what it is, and I certainly do NOT believe that “everything happens for a reason”, or that my husband’s death was part of “God’s Plan”, or that “trusting in the Lord” will get me through this nightmare. So, hearing these comments from the non-widowed is one thing, but to hear them from other widowed people who are very religious, is very hard. These comments are not only unhelpful to me, but I find them slightly offensive. Why do people assume everyone is religious? Why do people feed you cliches as if they are effective ways to respond to someone’s pain? And where on earth do people like me go to get some words of comfort that don’t include “God will carry you?” People should believe whatever it is that brings them comfort along this muddy road. I just sometimes feel like I’m all alone in not believing much of anything.
I am not a good widow. I curse. I make crazy and inappropriate jokes that sometimes offend others. I’m a comedian, which, in itself is weird and strange in this widowed world. I was not the type of person who dreamt of her wedding day as a little girl. No. I was and AM fiercely independant, and only dreamt of my wedding and my marriage after meeting the man I knew I’d spent my life with. But that life only ended up being four and a half years, and now I’m too old to be young, and too young to be old. Too tired to start over, too stubborn to give up.
Often times, I hear other widowed people talking about “finding themselves” after the loss of their partners. That’s something else I cannot relate to. I have always known exactly who I am, what I want, and where I want to be in life. My husband was my biggest supporter, and he would be proud as hell of everything I am doing now. His greatest joy was in watching me succeed. So, I know that I will survive and I will make something and create something and mold something out of this new, unwanted life. I know that I will, and I know that he will be in my soul always. I just miss him like hell, and it took me forever to find him, and then he was just gone. And I’m not sure that I know how to ever be okay with that.
We lived together on the same Island of Misfit Toys. We fit together so perfectly. Now I am stuck here on this island, and I am all alone. There are just some days where it feels like the only person in this world who truly understood me – is no longer here.
I want him back. He was my misfit, and we were misfits together in life. Without that, nothing seems to make much sense.