A Widow's Walk Broken Parts and Ghost Hearts

When I was 42, my first husband died. At that point, I had been with him for half my life. I met him at 18 when I was still living with my family; we married. So, I had never lived alone.

His passing was emotionally and financially devastating, and I decided to move to Georgia for the affordability. Leaving my family and friends was hard, but I felt I needed that time and space to do some much-needed self-work. While part of me enjoyed my new life of freedom and autonomy, I missed being married.

Three years after my first hubby’s passing, I met Ox. He was born on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. He loved that such a festive day was his birthday and would dye his gray beard green and wear a big, goofy green felt hat. He convinced me to marry him and move to South Carolina within a year. I was happy and in love, so I did.

I am a steady person who dislikes inconsistencies and surprises, and he was full of those. I was never spontaneous and had specific standards regarding where I went and where I ate. He would think nothing of coaxing me onto his motorcycle at any given moment to drive to some dive restaurant he knew I would never consider entering otherwise. I was self-conscious, wound tight, and would speak cautiously in public. He would walk around the house nude, was up for anything, and would make political remarks to strangers. A cheerful conversation over an Ohio State jacket or hat would devolve into him poking fun at the person if they weren’t from the same town in Ohio (and good Lord, don’t be from Cleveland). It was like living with Sophia from The Golden Girls – you never knew what would fly out of his mouth. He would say that he admired my ability to remain calm, get along, and my intellect, but I was envious of his confidence and ease.

The “opposites attract” thing did work for us most of the time, and we both grew as people from being in love. He got better at “reining it in,” and I got better at going with the flow and not overthinking everything. We shared experiences that the other would never have had. But he wasn’t used to being challenged and didn’t always handle it well, and I grew weary of the “teachable moments” because he was a White guy from Ohio and I was a Black woman from New York. There were things we agreed on politically and discussed many issues at length, making each other think, calling each other out on our BS, and not letting dumb or mean comments slide. We respected each other for that. But there were other times when he would point out my bougie-ness, and I would stare at him in disbelief for some comment devoid of experience or truth.

In early 2021, we separated. We eventually worked through our issues, and each did the self-work because we loved each other. In October, his relentless efforts to get us back together under the same roof paid off when we found a house to rent back in Georgia. We moved in at the end of October 2021. We planned to lease a little bit and then buy a home.

Things were great! We were happy, getting into a groove with our new jobs and a nice house in a lovely neighborhood. He had made friends with the neighbors without effort. At the same time, I enjoyed making the house our home, fussing over him and our two dogs, and planning out our finances to start looking for that perfect home where we would live out the rest of our lives together, start that business, build that homestead.

But his heart was giving out, and there were three trips to the hospital. He would not call 911; he always insisted I drive him. The third drive to the hospital was quiet. After he was admitted and I could see him, he said, “So. You have to go through this all over again.” I was dumbfounded. My self-control crumbled, and I burst into tears. All I was thinking about was him. And all he was thinking about was me.

It got to the point where the machines were only keeping him alive for that last heart attack. That was not how his daughter and I wanted him to go out, so we watched them disconnect him from machine after machine until he was gone.

It was on his birthday, March 17th.

I had to move again, downsizing to a house in a transitional neighborhood that needs work and farther than I’d like from my family and friends, even farther from our friends in South Carolina, and farther still from New York. I have our two dogs and my sanity, but there are days when the struggle is definitely real. However, I have been blessed with a fantastic support system that I am thankful for daily. They helped me through the passing of my first husband and are here for me again.

Many widows have been through a helluva lot more than I have, maybe with kids and not the same resources. I made out okay. It isn’t easy or pretty, but I’ll be okay. I don’t wear my widowhood as a badge or use it for sympathy. I wear my widowhood with gratitude. Gratitude that I found love twice. Of the amazing people and experiences I have had, the rollercoaster of emotions that taught me so much about life. It all made me realize I still have self-work to do, but I’m pretty goddamn awesome and a better person for having been a wife to two amazing, unique men.

Marriage is not for the weak. I will never marry again, mainly because I’m over it, but also because if I lose another…that may end me…if I don’t get investigated first.

I now face October – the month I first got married and when I reunited with my second husband. Not sure how that will go. It was my favorite month; I hope it will remain so. I will take time to write, plan, figure it out all over again, and create a life for myself full of happiness and peace.

They both would want that for me.

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