Thats the new job title. Objectively of course it fits. We were married, it would have been 15 years this month. The kids and I celebrated by setting a place for Momma: champaign with spaghetti and meatballs and a Caesar salad (her favorite.) I don’t feel like a widower, I don’t know what that really means. Is there special seating on planes? Do they put you at a different table at weddings? True liked celebrating our anniversary, she wants to do it again next year chiefly because it means chocolate cake. Anything with cake has to be good. Maybe you get more cake if you’re a widower.
So if I’m going to be a widower what kind do I get to be? Am I Tom Hanks from Sleepless in Seattle? My Mom thinks so, she says we had the perfect love, it comes only once in a lifetime. Does this mean I have to chase one of my kids to New York to meet my new love? I really don’t fly well these days (see – Get in the damned card and drive to Tijuana.) Does this mean I don’t get to love again? I never really liked that movie, even though I thought it was a really good performance by Hanks. He really captured what its like to be standing next to an amazing kid and grieving at the same time. Its sort of like running into a good friend you haven’t seen in an elevator when you’re on your way to get a kidney removed.
Of course Liam Neesson in Love, Actually is a good choice. His late wife was extremely cool and awesome (just like Terry) and he gets to hook up with Claudia Schiffer in the end. Bonus* he’s old like me! He’s the its-never-too-late-for-love-if-you’ve-got-kids widower. Also his kid rocks, I’ve got that times 2! I do cry kind of like he did in that movie. Its that sudden, almost coughing up a live sardine that went down the wrong pipe, kind of crying. Generally it makes people a little uncomfortable, as if you’re hurling up your dinner while still at the table.
Another tempting choice is Matt Damon in We Bought A Zoo. This one is really appealing because – damn you GET A ZOO! I mean like a real Zoo with big wild animals. Screw grieving, I want to feed LIONS!! There’s also the much younger Scarlett Johansson as well – not too shabby. What I really like about this one is he gets to cherish his love for his late wife, while still loving someone else. It shows that men can actually walk and chew gum (emotionally speaking) at the same time! *Caution here: one of the kids is extremely sullen. This I’m actually nervous about. Not that its happening just that it could. Of course the younger one is a perfect match for True – dancing her way through the cataclysm that is the loss of Momma in fuzzy pink shoes.
At this point its becoming clear that if you’re going to lose your spouse its MUCH better to be a man than a woman. I think we expect women to be permanently shattered, never to pick up the pieces unless a man comes along to do her the GREAT service of caring about her kids. We like our men to grieve, then fall in love and get laid. Women, meh – not so much. No big surprise there. Throw on top of that how pay inequality impacts single women, and you’ve got a pretty sad story. Much better to be the male lead in this.
Thats not to say there aren’t some pretty sexy widow flicks out there. When all is said and done (Zoo’s not withstanding) I’d rather be Demi Moore in Ghost. Where the fuck is my kiss goodbye? I get being the guy-widower, I can do all that. I just wanted a proper goodbye with her standing in the light and me knowing she was OK. Patrick Swayze is breaking down doors just to get to her and I am apparently a big pile of chopped liver! OK – fair enough, compared to a young Demi Moore I actually am a large pile of chopped liver.
And yes I do know she’s OK. She’s visited me in dreams, I’ve journeyed to her, and others have journeyed to her as well. Turns out she is not pining away for me. The kids, yep, but she’s got things to do and haunting me ain’t one of them. She’s doing great, she feels complete, gotta go, things to do. Hurumph. After all these years I still haven’t made it to the top of her priority list.
I like some of the movies about old widowers, the ones who talk to their wives all the time, visit their graves every day (George Burns in Going in Style … actually just George Burns after Gracie died). Its a simpler way of being. They’re old, there done, just time to wait for passing on. True of course will have none of that I’m done, throwing in the hat BS.
“I miss Momma.”
“Me too sweetie, miss her all the time.”
“What about my old Mama?”
“You mean your birth Mother? She’s sick, she can’t really be a Momma anymore.” Makes sense, if you’ve got an old, slightly used spare Momma laying around why not bring her in?
“WELL HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT FOR A MOMMA!!?”
“I really don’t know honey, Papa is not in charge of that. If its gonna happen, it will probably take time.”
The furrow of disappointment is deep.
I had my first counseling appt since Terry died yesterday, it took about a month to get in. Wether it was bureaucracy or the spirits slowing things down, it was apparently not my time for grief-support, which worked out to be fine for me. I did a fair amount of my vomit-crying, caught my counselor up on as much news as I could. I felt like a widower there, I suppose its because she saw me as that, rather than what most people see me as: the guy doing his best to care for the two kids who lost their Mom. People are worried for the kids, that makes sense, its a good thing.
Funny how I am starting to feel her absence most acutely with the kids. I had so much time to prepare for dealing with the practicalities of caring for them while Terry focused on her healing, and then her dying, that I had taken just about everything over. The only thing that changed when she died was that I had more time for the kids. For the first time, recently I feel those moments when we all would have turned to her, those places where she provided the balance to me, when she held Tadg and True in the way only their Mother could. This last month is really the first time in my life I’ve felt starkly inadequate as a parent. Not because I’m not doing all the right things, but because I’m not her.
I guess I’m like most people who know us, I’m not done mourning for my kids and what they have lost. Maybe when thats done I’ll get to cry all of my tears not just in a few gurgled moments, but in the great river that is waiting to flow through me. Maybe then I’ll feel like a widower.
Tadg has been gone for 4 days now on a class camping trip. He really didn’t want to be away, until he heard he’d be bunking with one of his best friends. True and I have spent a lot of time together, she’s noticed Momma being gone even more without Tadg to distract her. We’ve both slept deeply, a lot longer than we usually do. I didn’t even mind it when, a few hours after crawling into bed with me, she woke me up by sticking her toe in my ear (she was dead asleep.)
Come to think of it maybe that was Terry, making sure I knew she was still watching over us, ready with the joke. Not Patrick Swayze but I’ll take it.
Good night Gracie, wherever you are.