What is a widow? I am the widow and I don´t know what a widow is. I hear people say: “I can´t imagine what that is like”, or “I wouldn’t be able to put myself in her shoes”. Some people I know imagine that I am some sort of invalid that deserves pity as if invalids deserve pity when all they deserve is for people to do the right thing. But what is the right thing?
Do I want people to treat me differently? Do I want their help? Do I need their help? I want to say “no”, but inevitably I think “yes”. So… to be a widow is to need others constantly and to want them far away. To be a widow is to be in permanent contradiction with the world and with myself.
Some friends imagine that I am drowning in sadness, others have no imagination and think that my thoughts and feelings are the same as everyone else´s. To be a widow is to feel alien, different even extraordinary. Some people I know also believe that after a year I should be fine, that everything is now OK. Well, it is not OK. I am at sea. I am still sailing in my little dinghy, on this unwanted journey of discovery. Sometimes I encounter wonderful things, like beauty on an old man´s face, or the sound of the rain on the decking by my window. The proximity with death has enhanced my perception of beauty, and this is good, but sometimes, the journey becomes really boring, tedious, and I get thrown around in a perfect storm. After a year, nothing is OK, the sea is as deep and as wide and as big… but there is a huge difference: I am a better sailor. I am a better widow.
Being a widow is like losing a limb, at least for me. I imagine myself complete, but I am not. To be a widow is like feeling married, I see and feel the man I love in everything around me… Then, I catch myself on the mirror and I freeze because I don´t recognize that lonely alien woman that looks straight into my eyes. To be a widow is to try to understand your own reflection. Sounds crazy? Maybe to be a widow is to be crazy while you act as if you are sane. To be a widow is to hide feelings from yourself and not realize that you are hiding them, it is to think that you are a team and to feel angry with the other members of the team because they are never there, and they never help –bastards!-… I have also learned something quite sad: to be a widow is to be a target. Even people that you considered your good, trustworthy, friends are tempted to find your grief as an excuse to get you to do things you don´t want to do, or just to sell you something, or even try to steal your love. Be careful, widows! I am a strong person, quite a fierce creature, and I have made the mistake of opening my doors to several wolfs already. To be a widow is to be a temptation too good to be true for many people, specially men.
To be a widow is to cry sometimes as if you are made of water. Also, it is like being the character in a novel or a movie. Every week, I watch my life on television or I read about it, and of course, this makes me feel very strange. Cancer, young widows and handsome widowers are common place in literature and cinema. To be a widow is to be unreal. To be a widow is to look great but to feel like shit. Also, it feels good to be a widow because it gives you the excuse to say outrageous things. To be a widow is to have a good excuse to feel enraged or not to care.
To be a widow is to love your children better, but also, to imagine their deaths several times a day. I didn´t know what a widow was but I think today that I am beginning to know what it is really like. Well, today I am pretty sure that to be a widow is to learn to be someone else.