"Are you seeing anyone?" Our telephone conversation about safety-deposit boxes completed, my banker/casual friend from back home posed a question I've been asked more than a few times in the past 3 1/2 years.
"No, I thought about it, but I don't think it's for me. I just don't think I could sit with someone or a group of someones rehashing everything over and over. I journal, though, and writing has always been my version of therapy," I responded.
"Therapy? No, I meant are you seeing anyone. As in dating."
I stammered and stuttered, shocked at the question. At the very idea. Dating? Me? Why? I somehow managed to simply say "no, no dating", and we moved on to talk about our kids before hanging up.
That phone call took place yesterday, but it's been playing through my head ever since. The shock was quickly replaced by indignation. How could she think I would be dating again . . . or ever? I love my husband and can't imagine going on a date with anyone else. While eating lunch with a colleague/mentor today, I mentioned that I was feeling a big cranky and related the conversation and that I felt a bit insulted by the question. I tried to explain why. I love my husband. I have no desire to ever date again. And besides, I'm married. Well, widowed, but you know what I mean.
My colleague looked me straight in the eye and gently said, "But you aren't married any more. You were married 'until death do you part'." Silly as it sounds, in the 3+ years since my husband died, that had never occurred to me. I've never thought of myself as "unmarried" or "single". I'm "widowed", aka "married, but my husband has passed away". In fact, I was filling out a form recently and got to the section about marital status. I looked, then double-checked, but there was no box with "widow" typed next to it. I simply made my own box, put a check in it, and wrote "widow" next to it in very neat, precise letters.
Thoughts of the conversation with my banker/casual friend have been replaced with thoughts about my marital status. I need to ponder this before I'm ready to share, but in the meantime, I'd like to pose a few questions I've been contemplating this evening.
1. Should I move my wedding ring to my right hand? What will my kids say? Will they even notice?
2. Should I continue using "Mrs."? I don't care for Ms (I'm not even sure it's used anymore anyway), but Miss doesn't seem right, either.
3. What is the correct term to use when referring to my husband? If I'm no longer married, I no longer have a husband. If I use his first name, coworkers and friends that were not a part of my life before his death have no idea who I'm talking about.
There's no right or wrong answer, of course; each of us who have walked this path has to come to the answer that works for them. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on these, or any similar issues you've dealt with. If you prefer not to share publicly (via a "comment"), feel free to share your thoughts in an email to me at email@example.com.