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THE WIDOWER by Gene Myers

Article Posted: 03/22/2023
Article Views: 1022
Articles Written: 214
Word Count: 1111
Article Votes: 4
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Current Affairs,Health,Relationships
This is an essay I hoped I’d never write. It’s a eulogy of sorts and I’ve been compelled to write too many of these over the past five years. Usually, the words flow easily and effortlessly for me. I just sit back and let loose without much effort—let fingers follow mind. But not this time. This time it’s different. This time it’s personal in the most extreme and surreal way.

A strange word now describes me. Widower.

I hate that word.

it’s a dreadful word—perhaps an apt descriptor, but nonetheless, repulsive and definitely undesirable. Yet, in this chaotic world of entropy and indiscriminate events ruled by the incongruous juxtaposition of incompatibilities, on February 1, 2023, at 12:09am, that’s what I became. That wasn’t the “plan”. I am (rather was) six years older than Kay. On the average, women outlast men about six years. We figured she could be a widow for 12 years. In our discussions relative to the subject, we decided such an outcome was likely—that was our “plan”. Have you ever noticed that among churchgoers there is always a cadre of widows who hang out together?

Instead: Widower. That’s me. Now there is a darkness deep within me that has defeated joy and left a greasy black funk in its place. What incredible irony! What unending frustration? The cruel, insidious joke is on me.

The events leading up to my change of marital status made little sense. It was like walking out the front door and being hit with space junk. Impossible? No. Highly improbable? For sure. It was like winning the lottery only in reverse—the worst result imaginable. Death of a loved one is extremely stressful when you see it coming, but when it’s sudden, unlikely, and premature---? I can’t imagine ever being able to accept what the universe has dealt me.

Kay was fit, healthy, robust and full of life that morning when she left to volunteer at a food bank where she’d selflessly labored for five years. Her usual routine was up at 6am gone by 7am, finished at 1pm, shopping; and home about 3pm. However, that day she called at 11:45am to see if I needed anything from the store and arrived home about 12:30pm. Unlike any other outreach day, she was highly agitated by the attitudes of some of the recipients some of whom complained, demanded, and claimed they were entitled to special treatment because of their race. She talked of quitting. Normally cheerful and giving, I’d never seen her in such a state. An omen? If it was, I wasn’t paying attention.

After a while she calmed down and settled in with a book. We talked briefly about attending the PNC Parabas tennis tournament in Indian Wells in March. She said she couldn’t wait. I left for the gym and promised to return in an hour. I did. She complained of being cold, which I didn’t think much about—men and women having different thermostats. It dawned on me that over the past week she mentioned being cold more than usual. We even increased the house temperature setting; something we hadn’t done in our seven years of living in Arizona. Was that a clue?

She laid down to rest and complained of abdominal pain and nausea. Over the next few hours, she alternated sleeping and evacuating green bile. A 9-1-1 call resulted in a hospital trip so I packed a small overnight kit for her. When the attending physician summoned me, I expected to hear that the condition had been diagnosed, treatment was working, and she’d be kept overnight for observation. What I heard instead was, “Her heart has stopped”. That was followed by we’re-so-sorry(s) and other phrases meant to comfort me. I don’t remember much else. I was numb. It was simply not possible. Her life ended at 12:09am February 1, 2023. I kissed her goodbye 30 minutes later.

So now what? What do I do with my new unwelcome status? I mean, I know almost everyone in the history of the world has gone through separation from a partner in one form or another. It’s not like the experience is unique to me. Why does it feel like it is?

I remained conscious for 36 straight hours; and more than a month later I rarely sleep more than four hours.

I suppose (for her) to have a quick death versus one that lingers is beneficial. For me, unprepared as I was, it was brutal, bizarre--. From force of habit I still yell, “Hello!” when I come through the door waiting for a response that never comes. Icy silence ensues. But I still hear her reply it in my head. Our daughter and son remained for several weeks. I dreaded to see them go, but they have their own lives and I knew I had to face a life alone head-on sooner or later.

Funny how a building so warm and welcoming can feel like a cold isolated tomb. The life of the house has gone into the ether. I finally realized that it wasn’t the house but Kay who was my real homecoming. Well-meaning friends tell me this will pass, that I will find a life (of sorts) and joy again. With that in mind I spoke with a widow of one of my best boyhood friends. He died five years ago. I asked, “Does it get any better?”

She said, “No, but you learn to be a good actor for their sake. There hasn’t been a day when I don’t see him and talk to him and cry.”

Another neighboring widow reported the same experience. Of course, what all three of us had in common was that we were (are?) deeply in love with our partners. Our experience may be unique in this day and age. Who knows?

So, will this pass? Will I find a suitable distraction or love again? Let me put it this way: I don’t want to. Besides the constant comparison would be unfair to anyone new in my life.

Finally, the real, gut-wrenching frustration is that Kay started passing blood (stools) around Christmas but only told our daughter. Had she checked her blood for C-reactive protein chances are she could have been treated before sepsis took her life. That, my friends, is the defeat I live with daily.

Will I see her again or is the great darkness eternal? Kay had great faith. I have hope. I hope she’s right. After having written over 200 essays and articles I suspect this one is my last.

Enough. Finally, enough.

So, in a word the French reserve only for that final goodbye, I bid you all adieu.

Related Articles - eulogy, greasy black funk, 9-1-1, sepsis,

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 Reader Opinions 
03/23/23 - 7:55:02 AM - Leona May
Oh Gene! Only those of us who have lost our love can truly understand where you are coming from. You have an eloquent way with words to express what we, in the same boat, can only feel.

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