Widow Finds Way to Feel at ‘Home’

We all go through different stages in our lives. And all of those stages affect us differently. And how we deal with those stages shape the people we become.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about when my husband and I were first married, when I was at the ripe old age of 20. Actually, I got married 3 weeks after I turned 20 because I refused to get married as a teenager.

So, at the beginning of my marriage, we had no money. Like I-felt-guilty-about-buying-a-pair-of-socks… no money. My husband had a good, steady job, but I was still in college. So my contribution was minimal. It came when he could claim me as a dependent on his taxes.

You should also know that at the beginning of my marriage, I followed my husband 1500 miles away from my home to that steady job.  Away from everyone I knew and everything that was familiar. From mountains to beach. From heavy sweatshirts to bikini wear (and even at that age I didn’t have the abs for it). From sweaty Birkenstocks at the grocery store, to shirtless/shoeless men with ferrets in the meat department.

Lovely.

Knowing that I was completely out of my element, my husband did his very best to make me feel at home. Now, I realize that for most men, feeling at home involves a good bean-bag chair and a six pack of Miller High Life. But my husband went above and beyond the manly/husbandly call of duty. Especially for an Engineer.

He bought me a piano.

I’ve played the piano since I was five. I’ve sung since I can remember. I even went so far as to get a music scholarship to college (which I promptly dumped because frankly it was just too hard). Music was my stress reliever. My outlet. My way to get back at the world in an out-of-tune way when reality just irritated me.

When I married my husband, I realized that I would be giving up my childhood piano and I had no idea when we would ever be able to afford to actually buy one ourselves. And that was okay. I loved him and I just couldn’t wait to be with him. So giving up something that was so much a part of me and replacing it with something that I couldn’t wait to be with every waking minute…it seemed like a pretty fair trade.

But one day, at an estate sale, my husband saw a piano for $200. And he looked at me and said, let’s get that.

Knowing that we really didn’t have $200 to spend on it, I said, Why? It’s not necessary.

And he replied, Because you need it. And I want you to feel like you’re home.

Okay. I know all of you girls are feeling melty.But I really hesitated. Ummmm, water bill, piano? Car payment, piano?

I looked at him (in my divine 20-year-old wisdom) and said, I don’t care what I have. I don’t care where we are. You’re home. And I can take you with me wherever I go.

I didn’t realize until later, how that moment, that realization, would affect me.

At 20, I possessed the naive belief that nothing bad would ever happen. That he would always be with me. That even if we ended up in a cardboard box we’d still be home.

At that age, I never thought I would be without him. I didn’t know that I could afford to have my kids involved in the activities they wanted to be in. That we could eat out some times and not have to worry. That I could have the material things that I needed.

But that without him, I’d still feel homeless.

I’ve had tears because a huge fraction of my family is gone. I’ve thought, He hasn’t been here to see my kids grow up. He hasn’t been here for the first loose tooth.  He hasn’t been here to see who I’ve become.

No one else knows about those tears. No one else saw.

But every once in a while I have a feeling. I smile into thin air. I laugh when nothing is funny. I’m inspired by a blank wall.

There’s something in me that knows. I can take him with me.

And I’m home.

Catherine Tidd 2010

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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  • Stephanie says:

    I wish I could to a better place. I lost my husband when we were 27 years old. He was my childhood sweetheart and like you I never thought anything bad would happen to us. Then that horrible knock at the door and my life has never been the same nor will it ever. It was been 21 months and 2 days and I hurt just as much then as I do now. We have to girls that were 8 and 10 and the time and I was pregnant with our son. I really have no idea how to live anymore. People say it gets better with time and it doesn’t. I feel so alone in the world with no idea what to do.

    • Jo says:

      Stephanie,
      My heart goes out to you. I can sympathize with what you are feeling but I know better than to say I know what you are going through cause I don’t. Those who say it gets better with time probably haven’t experienced the same loss as you have. As a widower myself, now 3 yrs out, I can tell you the “it” doesn’t get better. Our loved ones don’t come back no matter how long we wait. What does get better is you. However, as you’re learning that takes time, more time than most realize. Please know that you are not alone. Even though you may be lonely and with three children likely feeling overwhelmed handling their grief and needs as well as your own (I have two children of my own so I have an idea of that journey) YOU-ARE-NOT-ALONE! We’re out here too walking a similar road. You found this site. Read, post on it like you just did, ask questions, vent, look up other like sites and blogs by widows and widowers. You mentioned a knock on the door, if you’re military, the American Widow Project is an awesome site to check out as is TAPS.org. Hang in there.

    • Jenni Halley says:

      Stephanie, hang in there. I would highly suggest seeing a counselor, it can do wonders. I don’t have access to group therapy, but that is good for some people. I am really struggling also with the loss of my husband. It has been 2 1/2 years and the pain is just as bad. There are lots of people here to listen.

  • Dear Stephanie–

    How my heart goes out to you! I have several friends who were pregnant when they lost their husbands. I can’t imagine how that time must have been for you.

    I do feel that things get better with time…but that it takes everyone a different amount of time. For some, the loss seems unbearable for a long time. For others, the loss gets a little easier, but is always present. Everyone…no matter how long their spouses have been gone…has good days and bad. And on the bad days we have to lean on others when we can for support.

    Please know that support is out there and you are not alone. I don’t know if you are on Facebook, but if you are and you feel up to it, check out the Widow Chick page. There are so many people on there who just give unconditional support. I know that my journey has gotten a little easier just knowing those people are out there.

    I’m thinking of you.

    Catherine

  • Debra says:

    Stephanie,
    I understand the feeling of feeling alone, but I hope you realize there is a bunch of us widows that are here for you! This road is not easy and sometimes we dont have the right words of comfort, even for each other, but we are all willing to listen and share our stories. I am four years in and am just now feeling that it does get easier (not better or less painful). The pain the heartache the shouldve beens will always be there. But after time the shock the numbness and the physical hurt will become less intense and smiling will get easier. Hugs to you! If you ever want to talk you can always reach out to me or any of us in the group!
    Debra

  • Sandra says:

    I am so glad I found this website and it is great to know there are so many caring people out there.

    I lost my husband very unexpectedly on 4 August – exactly 6 weeks ago today, and it hurts so badly. He was my second husband and we had been married for 10 years. Nothing could ever prepare us for this awful loss we are all going through.

    I like what Jo says above, that “it” never gets better, but we can heal and get better. That gives me hope. Thank you.

    One day at a time is all I can deal with now. This week I found a Griefshare group and I know they will be of great help to me. I thought I could do this alone but realise I need the help of people who have been through the same thing.

  • Kim Go says:

    Catherine- true words here – you have internalized your beloved and he is in you always.