Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Status as Symbol

Dear John,
One of my dear widowfriends passed a milestone yesterday. She changed her Facebook status to "widowed." It's a significant thing and difficult to do. We all reach that point in our own timing.
It is terribly meaningful, but we're having a hard time expressing just what that meaning is. As I told you when I did it, there is something so dreadfully final about it. It puts our worst nightmare down in black and white. Widowhood isn't just a legal or social status; it's an existential reality. It is something that we deeply ARE, an indelible part of us, sometimes overwhelming everything else. There is some little piece of all of us that hopes that things will somehow go back to the way they were before; bearing the title of "widow" reminds us that they won't, that this is permanent. Needless to say, that is extremely unpleasant.
I changed my Facebook status on April 22nd, nine days after your death. I wrote you about doing it and how it felt, but not why I did it when I did. Now I'm trying to remember. I do recall wanting to be sure all my Facebook family knew that you had died, and I knew that a status change would show up on my timeline. That was probably my primary reason. But underneath that, for me as for all of us, was an awareness that if was the right time. It was the right thing to do.
So this is both organic and existential. No wonder we can't put it into words. Widowhood is deeply part of who we are. And it defines us completely for a while. I'm just now beginning to grow an identity alongside that - never apart, just alongside. That is another thing we will all do is our own time.
Thanks for listening, once again, to my existential mutterings. I wonder how many hours you spent listening to me trying to figure out what was going on in the back of my head. Bless you, you valued and enjoyed my head, and I'm certain you still do.  All feedback is welcome. You know my phone number, and you know where I live!
Adore you,

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Joan for validating everything! Not sure why I changed it, it was just time. Something inside me knew. All so very unusual