My nail tech asked this morning how long I had been a widow. When I responded with 8 and 1/2 years, she asked, “So, you’ve moved on?” I then asked what she meant by “moved on,” because let me tell you I have yet to meet a widow that loves the term “moved on.” Her response was that, "you’ve had 2 serious boyfriends since your husband has passed and your kids are great and functioning well, so in my book you’ve all moved on.”
At that moment, a knife went into my stomach. I felt sick. I felt hurt. I felt judged.
Yes, at 8 and 1/2 years out I don’t feel the need to explain to anyone, especially my nail tech. But there I was, explaining.
“We have moved forward, yes. Yes, we have chosen to keep living. Yes, I have done everything in my power to show my kids that when someone dies, we don’t die with them. We choose to put one foot in front of the other and find joy, happiness and silver linings. We choose to love those around us even harder and make moments even more precious. We choose to not argue, we choose to find solutions, because life is entirely too short.
There is not ONE SINGLE DAY that goes by that I don’t wish Mark were here. There is not ONE SINGLE DAY that goes by that I’m sure his children don’t wish he were here. Both of my kids have MISSED OUT on having their Dad out on big life changes. Madison was 15…so let me start with high school graduations, moving into college, driving a car, starting to work, getting older and changing perspectives.
And, then there was sweet Reese, he was 6. My heart aches even repeating this! Reese has unbelievably missed out. He has no clue what Mark wanted to do with him, couldn’t wait to do with his, “Little Buddy.” Exploring the woods, graduating 5th grade and 8th grade, driving a car, all the hunting and fishing he would have done, shooting guns, teaching him to shave (which we haven’t tackled yet!), fixing a car, a flat tire, chasing girls….this list could go on and on because that father & son bond ended entirely too early. So many soccer games, so many little things but especially the man Reese is becoming!
My nail tech goes on to say, “BUT, you’ve had 2 boyfriends, grandparents, in-laws, friends that have been there for all those things.” (Again, knife to my stomach.)
I was done. I had to tell her that her perspective wasn’t there. It never would be for her without the unfortunate happening. I don’t ever wish that on anyone.
But here I am typing all this out because sometimes we may not, “get it,” we judge because we assume, or we think we would do things differently but the reality is we can’t. Trust me when I tell you that I’ve been there. I’ve judged other widows before I was one. I judged other parents before I was one and even after I was one. I judged and I judged. You can never really have someone else’s perspective unless you are walking in their shoes.
Here is what it all comes down to (other than letting ALL that judgment go)…..There isn’t a widow out there that has, “moved on.” This is why she hates those words. Moving on to a widow means forgetting, being over it and/or not grieving anymore…which I can tell you with 100% accuracy, it is NEVER the case.
There isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t missed. There isn’t a day that goes by that my heart still doesn’t ache for that 15 year old girl and that 6 year old boy that had to have their Mom tell them that their Dad was never coming home again. Or that my heart doesn’t ache for ALL the things he has missed and ALL the things they should have had him there for. Those two kids deserved that. They deserved their Dad to be there. They deserved for Mark to have been there, every step of the way.
We have moved FORWARD. I know that Mark would support most, if not all the decisions I have made. I know that he would be proud of the two kids I am single handedly raising. I know that he would have wanted me to have found love again, or 15 more times if that’s what it takes! I know I would have wanted him to do the same thing.
Lastly, I do want to say thank you to those of you that have stood in for Mark and been there. Those of you who have helped along the way, you stepped into shoes that you knew you couldn’t fill. You’ve been that warm body, that support and that love that my kids and I have needed. I can’t imagine how hard that was for you. Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.
Always remembered and never forgotten…..Mark D. Barrett, Virginia State Police, EOW 9/14/10