Saturday, June 30, 2012

On What I Will (and Won't) Miss - A Reflection

When I began writing on this site, I decided that I wasn’t going to be one of those widowers that stopped writing when he entered a new, serious relationship. I also felt like I would know when it was time to quit writing here. Unfortunately, the two of those things are contradictory in my life, as I have found that the time to quit writing is directly tied to a serious relationship.

Tomorrow (or likely today once I post this) I will take Winn-D to be my wife. At the outset of this journey, I always assumed that I would continue to write if I ever remarried, because there would certainly be grief-fueled situations that would arise from time-to-time. But as the time to wed has approached, I have also realized that once the ceremony is over tomorrow, I will no longer be a widower by definition. And with my loss of widower status, I will lose the title of single father as well.
Those are items I would put on the “what I won’t miss” list.

But there are certainly things I will miss. I had a sweet evening with my daughter tonight. I’m a bit old for bachelor parties and was really never into that scene even when I wed my late wife almost eleven years ago. So in lieu of that, I spent the evening the only way that seemed appropriate: alone with my daughter. After the rehearsal and subsequent dinner, we drove the 30 minutes back to our hometown (where we will continue to reside) and stopped for ice cream before heading back to the house. My daughter, who is precocious and somewhat wise beyond her years, has spent a lot of time adjusting to all of the changes that will take place in our home. There have been some bumps in the road and some times when she wasn’t sure how to love Winn-D without diminishing what she had with her mommy. Tonight’s conversations showed me that she has come to terms with most of these things. She is nothing but genuinely happy about this marriage. She is excited to be getting a new stepmom (she has told me repeatedly in recent months that she was ready for this when she was five and that she was just waiting for me to meet someone like Winn-D), which most kids would not be. But tonight she told me that she is also happy for me to be getting a new wife. What eight year old thinks like that?!? It was one of those evenings that I hated to see end, but we spent the time celebrating our family as it has been for the last five and a half years and looking forward to what it will be like with Winn-D in the house.

One of the things I have enjoyed about being in a relationship is that I suddenly transitioned from outcast/social anomaly to someone who completely fits in. Now, I have always fit in to a proper level, but I have written here about the many times, especially early on when people clearly did not know how to make me fit. When you are a single father, you rarely get invited to couple’s houses and there is certainly no opportunity for a dinner out. Arranging child care is somewhat iffy because you are not a mom, but are suddenly forced into the traditional mom role as well and neither other moms or their husbands are quite comfortable with that. Now, those things being said, there were some couples along the way that invited me over for dinner and there were a few moms who did not have the least bit of trouble communicating with me about child care when I needed it (ironically, Winn-D and I are “couple friends” with one of them now), but overall, most people don’t know how to handle a man in my situation.

I won’t miss that either.

But what about the fact that I have been the sole decision-maker in my home for almost five and a half years? Oddly, that could go on both lists. On the one hand, I loved the freedom of being able to make whatever decision I wanted/needed to make without having to communicate with another adult about it. And though all of my decisions during this time may not have been perfect, the vast majority have worked out. But on the other hand, I actually like being able to communicate with Winn-D about decisions. Even if it is coordinating who will pick up my daughter on the evenings we are together or what our plans are for the upcoming weekend, it has been nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and it feels good to work together in this way. I’m sure there are times that I will miss the simplicity of making the decision alone, but I think more often than not I will cherish the fact that I don’t have to do so any longer.
One of the things I think I will miss most is sharing on this site. I am not naïve enough to think that marrying Winn-D will cover over any moments of grief I may have in the future. But I have also realized that this site has been largely neglected over the last year and a half, and that maybe the natural progression of my grief process has dictated that I am at a point where my need to write here has run its course. I have tried, but have never quite connected with the other widowers out there, and many of them have since quit writing. Dan quit, but left his site up for others to read. So did Todd. Rick and Roads to London both quit writing and removed their sites (Roads actually just privatized his). When I started writing, I did so because there were only a couple of other blogs for widowers at the time. I had been widowed for two years, and yet could not find anyone who really understood or could help me feel more normal about the grieving process from the standpoint of someone who has actually lived it. Over the past three years, I have received e-mails from time to time from men who stated that my site has done just that for them. So for that reason, I plan to leave these writings up, even though I no longer plan to add to them.

One of the surprising things has been the support I have received from widows. I thought that I was doing this to help other men, but found myself helping and being helped by other women as well. One of these women has become a friend to me, though we have never actually spoken. WomanNShadows is someone I instantly felt a kinship to and she is someone I hope to remain in contact with over the coming years. She has been a blessing to my daughter and I and a great deal of support since I first came to know her a few years ago. For those of you who stop by here from now on, please take a moment to read her site as well.

So tomorrow I will take Winn-D to be my wife. We will begin a journey that will likely end in widowhood for one of us someday. But for now, we will rejoice in the beginning of the journey and the excitement of whatever lies before us.

Thank you for reading and for your support over the years.

God bless.