And this, the only appropriate designation, felt hard-earned.
Frank's sickness and death belonged to him, but they had changed my life, too, making demands and requiring sacrifices.
And one morning, when I left the hospice to feed our cats and make some calls, Frank died.
A chaplain led me by the hand to her office, and I sank to the floor, crying, deeply sad--and guilt-ridden--that I had not been with him at the very end.
Part of me wanted to shake him when he complained of routine problems, to make him put things in perspective.I asked questions in oncologists' offices and took notes.I cried on the phone to impassive health insurance bureaucrats.But I felt torn between feeling very attached to his memory and also taking tentative steps toward a future without him.Widowhood also has had a strange sanctifying effect on how men perceive me.We went out for drinks and had a great time, telling stories about our childhood and swapping anecdotes about our lives as writers.I'd assumed that our mutual friends had told him I'd lost my husband.But he also helped me understand how alien and incomprehensible my situation must seem to someone who has not lived with such a loss.I've been dating for almost two years now--some guys lasted just one date, others for months at a time.Yet when I started dating, widowhood became the woolly mammoth in the room--guys would try to avoid the subject completely.The first man I dated after Frank, a sports fanatic from Brooklyn whom I saw for two months, would tense his jaw and say, "I'm sorry," before changing the subject to football. But I felt sorry enough for myself; after a point, I could hardly bear having anyone else feel sorry for me.