In the past two years I’ve felt like death is as ubiquitous as ever, and this is especially true (in my personal experience) of wives who have lost husbands. About 18 months ago, my uncle died after a long struggle with cancer, leaving my aunt a widow in the process. A year later, Nora became a widow when she lost Aaron. I don’t know Nora personally, but we share so many friends, and we’ve engaged on social media. I feel like these days, that counts. Aaron’s death really hit me hard, despite the fact I didn’t know him, because he was so young, and he was a young creative in Minneapolis. We probably could’ve been friends but I never had the good fortune to meet him. It also hit me hard because Aaron and Nora had been together about as long as Alan and I had, but they had doubled down on the “forever” part like the world was ending (and in a way, it was), and made a 3 year marriage worthy of a lifetime. While this all happened I clutched Alan tightly, beside myself with grief for a husband who was not yet dead, and had no plans on dying.
Then recently, my favorite blogger, Joanna Goddard, had two deaths in her extended family. Both brothers-in-law, both relatively young, both leaving behind widows. And then, this morning, Sheryl Sandberg wrote this touching and heartbreaking note about life after the sudden death of her husband Dave Goldberg. After hearing tale after tale of these women who then have to pick up the pieces after their husband’s death — whether it was sudden or slow — I couldn’t help myself anymore and walked around my dark house this morning, crying to myself. I’ve always been weirdly fascinated by death, and obviously terrified of it. That’s not new. That it can happen literally at any moment is always such an abstract concept, until you start thinking about it way too much. Like, WAY too much. I’ve done reckless things. Most people I know have been reckless, and we’re all still here, still breathing, still living. Some people get fucking bad luck, and I hate that it has to happen to the people who love them. I can’t even begin to comprehend that depth of grief.
I feel like these women and their stories are trying to teach me something. Teach me to hold onto my dear ones tightly, and not take them for granted. It’s super easy to take a person for granted when they’re always around, when they sleep beside you. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate or love my husband. But maybe sometimes I forget to show him. And I should, and we should, and you should. Hold onto those people, my babies.