Deaths of Husbands Bond Two Young Widows

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” –Unknown

My friend’s husband recently passed away after a long battle with cancer.  But as we all know…it doesn’t matter how long you’ve “known”…it’s always a shock when that moment comes.

We were always meant to be friends, and I think we were always meant to have a place in each other’s lives.  Our friendship is unusual because in the two years we’ve known each other, I’ve never once met her husband. 

He had been sick the entire time I’ve known her, but since I had never met him, that made me 100% her friend.  Someone who knew her and her struggles and could be there completely for her without feeling disloyal to her husband.

He knew about our friendship, and at times I got the feeling that he wasn’t crazy about it.  My presence in her life probably reminded him that terrible things were possible.  And that there was a chance I might be here to help her when he couldn’t be.

We met 2 years ago at a church fundraiser.  I had been looking for a photographer to take pictures of my kids and she had a booth in the Narthex.  My sister told me later that it was strange how I went straight to her booth without looking anywhere else.  But when I saw the pictures and the magic she could create, I had no doubt that she was the person who was meant capture my children at that playful age.

As we were setting up our appointment and emailing back and forth, she asked me if the session was going to be all about the kids or if there would be some family pictures taken.  I emailed her back and told her that I mainly wanted the pictures to be taken of the kids, but that I’d like a few taken of me with them.  I told her that these would be the first pictures we would have taken as a family since I lost my husband.

The response I received from her later that evening gave me chills and somehow cemented our friendship right away.  She told me that her husband was battling cancer, but that they knew it was terminal.  And that she had two small children.

We made our session appointment, and I enjoyed watching her work and interact with my kids. She really worked magic and had all kinds of tricks up her sleeve.  But I think we were both anxious to get that initial meeting out of the way so that we could make plans to get margaritas and really get to what would be the heart of our relationship.

During our first dinner, she asked me a million questions about benefits and raising children alone, and after every question, she apologized and told me that she felt terrible for asking me these questions before her husband was even gone.

I finally said, “You have to quit apologizing.  We’re women and we’re mothers.  You think that if I had known my husband was going to die, I wouldn’t have asked someone questions who had already been through it so that I could be as prepared as possible?”

During the last couple of years, we’ve talked, sent texts, and gotten together when we can.  A 4-year-old and a 2-year-old along with a business and a terminally ill husband kept her beyond busy and single parenting and my own projects kept me on my toes.  In the last few months, knowing that the end was probably near, I would leave her messages, reminding her that I was here if she ever needed me. 

More often than not, her response would be, “I’m going to need you.  I’m going to need you after.”

And so here we are.  After.

Since my husband’s death, when I deal with loss, I find myself less sad about the person who is gone and more affected about the people who are left behind.  I don’t necessarily always mourn the loss; I mourn the loss of the life that they thought they would have and the memories that will never be.

While I read her blog — something that I’m jealous that she had the presence of mind to keep up so well while she dealt the many things she had going on — I am instantly reminded of my own moments, telling my children and making arrangements.  Knowing what a blur it will be in the upcoming days, weeks, and months, I cry with the knowledge that there will be some things I will be able to ease.  And some things she will have to go through alone.

The first day we met at that photo session, I asked her to do me a favor.  As a tribute to my husband, I asked her to take pictures of my kids releasing balloons.  I wanted to remember them at that age and have something to remind me that such a simple act provided the four of us some peace for a moment.

She teared up for a minute and then aimed her camera at my children.  She took those pictures knowing that someday, it would be her standing there with a little fist in one hand and some curly ribbon in the other.

Waiting for the right moment to release.

Catherine Tidd 2011

Catherine Tidd

More Articles Written by Catherine

Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit http://widowchick.blogspot.com

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  • Connie says:

    Damn. *tears* …and my loss was not a husband (but a fiance…yes it makes a difference), and I don’t have kids. Bravo Catherine.

  • Lynn Jones says:

    I lost my husband a year ago. He was 45. I too mourn more what my sons will miss in a father even more than what I will miss in a husband and best friend. Great article!!

  • Catherine says:

    Thank you both so much for your comments! It’s so hard watching someone else go through this…I just wish I could say the right thing and make it all go away!

  • Jen says:

    Catherine – what a beautiful article. My wonderful 46 year old husband lost his battle with cancer on Thanksgiving morning and I am still numb. Having to go on everyday for our 2 boys and wonder how we’ll get by without him for the rest of our lives is overwhelming. Your article said exactly how I imagine we all feel. Your friend is lucky to have you.

  • Jai says:

    My friend and I are two young widow women who our husbands were good friends. My husband died first and her husband died 6 months later. Both of them had cancer. Now my friend is battling cancer herself and Im been supporting her on her journey. Someone ask me hey you doing it again. I would not trade our friendship. A special bond we share as we raise our children holding on to GODs unchanging hand while on this journey. Be enocurage.

  • Chris says:

    Such as wonderful article. I lost my wife of 20 years after a six year battle with cancer a few months ago. The tough part where she will not be there for my two girls big events in life. It sucks. Having someone who listens is so important. Thanks for the article

  • Brandi Reyna says:

    Tears. Wonderfully put into words.

  • M.J> says:

    Hi,
    I know first hand what you are dealing with, I too lost my husband on January 5, 2011, and it has been a rollcoaster for me too.We have a 5yr. old son together and i can think of is my son growing up without his father whom he adore so much.Each time I look at our son he remanins me of my husband.At this point all i can do is focus on GOD and HIS plan that HE has for me.I wish my husband was with me right now, but he diw sudden of cardic arrest, and he was only 35yr.old and had a future ahead of him, but i have to focus on raises my two children without my husband. I will tell you grieving widows/widowers keep GOD first and know that HE is near us always, and our love ones has gone too a much better place than we are.

  • Ayan Scott says:

    Oh Honey! I feel your pain,I lost my husband on feb 5, 2011 0n his birthday. He was only 43 years old.He was my life and iam lost without him. Every day it seems i miss him more and more everywhere i look iam reminded of him…
    I miss my Ronnie! I my girls my missed their Dad…

  • Pelita says:

    Thank you for sharing. I lost my husband on April 26, 2011. It was sudden. We had just got back from a family vacation in Disneyland the week before. He had cold and flu like symptoms. Took him to the ER and after his blood test he had to get admitted right away for leukemia. After 5 days in the hospital, he passed away. My kids Giselle 6 and Ryan 3 know that their Daddy is an angel now.
    Our 9th wedding anniversary was July 13 and his 40th birthday was on July 27.

    We will miss his physical presence and all the things we did as a family. Yes, we wish he was here for all those special moments and events as our children grow up. Yes, we have all the special memories we have together. He lives through my children and will always be watching over us.