I’ve gone through most of my life not really caring about what people think of me. I always held my ground in terms of my values and beliefs, and I always remained true to myself no matter what people said or did. I never wavered from who I was and there was never a moment where I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted out of life. Even at a very young age, I was very determined to be independent and free. Those two things were the only goals I had in my life. I never wanted to be encumbered or held down to anybody or by anything – that’s probably why I never really took an interest in boys or dating when I was younger. I was always focused on my studies and wanted to grow up and be independent as fast as I could. I used to live life by this motto in my teenage years and well into my 20’s. It’s one of my favorite quotes.
“Not all those who wander are lost”
For some reason when I saw this quote on a bumper sticker while driving on day, it really struck a chord and I felt like it was me in a nutshell. I never really had a clear path while I was growing up. I just knew I had to work hard and move forward, but I really didn’t know where forward was going towards. To me, it didn’t really matter where the destination was, as long as I was growing, progressing, and learning – these were the only things that matter to me. The destination wasn’t important, so I had a tendency to wander and go where ever life took me. Some people called it “spontaneous,” others called it “adventurous,” some even called it “risk-taking.” I never shied away from new things or experiences, and I was always open and down to try anything once. I also loved to travel and roam the world learning about new cultures and ways of life. For me, the world was large and grand, and I wanted to exploring every nook and cranny. By the time I met you in my mid-20’s, I had already traveled to over a dozen countries. Mind you, I was never reckless and everything was within reason, but if an opportunity presented itself and it felt right in my gut, I would seize the opportunity, even if it defied logic and reason. I was more afraid of not getting a second chance than the unknown and uncertainty of the opportunity. Carpe Diem – yes, I definitely also lived by this motto also. I never wanted to lose out on an opportunity just because I wasn’t ready or the timing wasn’t right or not what I had planned. I always believed that if I took care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself. It’s odd, I’m not a religious person, but I do believe there’s a master plan for each of us if we’re open to accepting and letting it lead us to where we are destined to go. I always had my passport within arm’s length and a black dress in my closet – ready for any adventure that may present itself at a moment’s notice. That was the type of person I was before I met you. I was fearless, spontaneous, unencumbered and a bit erratic. I liked to call it being a free-spirit. You always thought of it as being wild and untamed.
You also enjoyed your independence and freedom. You didn’t want to be tied down or encumbered either. Within the first few months we started dated, you told me, “No woman is ever going to get me to walk down the aisle!” This didn’t bother me much since I didn’t really believe in the institution of marriage either. You also didn’t care about what the world thought about you either. You always knew where you stood in terms of your values and beliefs and you held strong to them as well. These were the things we had in common that tied us together, whether we knew it or not. However, the difference between us lied in how we approached and interacted with the world. I wanted to always be moving while you were content with being stationary. You were content with living in your world and had no desire for change or living in any way that was drastically differently than the way you were living. You didn’t even have a passport when I met you. The first time you left the country was when I forced you to take an international trip with me. You abhorred changed while the only constant for me was change. You moved at the speed of snail whenever we had to make any type of big or major decisions in our life. You had to think every detail through, play out all the different scenarios, calculate everything, and then recalculate it three more times before you can even begin to take action, and even when you knew what you wanted or had to do, you were still very reluctant and cautious. Yes, it was very frustrating for someone like me, who moves at the speed of light.
But, over the years, our personality started to meet at a happy medium. I learned to move slower and you learned to move faster, and we always tried to meet the other where ever the other person was. It was never 50/50 since sometimes one person couldn’t give 50% so the other person had to give more in order to make it work, and that’s what we did. We always tried to meet each other where ever the other person was. Although we are both very selfish with our time and how we chose to spend it, we were always selfless when it came to being present for each other, our family, and friends. We always kept our word and commitments, and we both knew how to show up and support each other and the people closest to us. And, somehow, after 12 years of dating and 8 years of living together, two strong, independent people who didn’t believe in marriage, got married. To this day, I can’t believe we actually got married. When you brought up getting married, I thought it was a joke. I laughed and said, “But, we don’t believe in marriage?!” And you said, “I already think of you as my wife, so why not make it official?!” And, that’s how we got married. For two people who didn’t want to get married, I have to say, “We were pretty good at ‘playing house.’”
I remember sitting in my therapist’s chair for the first time after you passed and said, “Sean and I are super independent, and we didn’t really rely on each other much. We did our own thing, so I’ll be okay once I get over the grief part.” Boy, was I wrong! 😂🤣 I didn’t realize how intertwined and codependent we were until you passed. Even a simple decision such as “What’s for dinner?” was a joint decision. Without realizing it, we thought we were living and roaming in an open pasture with free reign to wander and go where ever we wanted, but in reality, we were living in an enclosed pasture and never noticed that there was fence enclosing us. Honestly, Babe, we were living in a bubble and we didn’t even realize it. Our world was actually fairly small and simple, and we were super happy and content with its mundane and boring existence. Whether we knew it or not, we were living the life that neither of us wanted, and surprisingly, we were happy and content doing it together. I guess it’s true, being married is like “hanging out with your BFF every day!”
To this day, the hardest part of being a widow is my identity crisis. After you passed, it was like I didn’t know who I was anymore and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. There were days where I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I just wanted to rip it off. I wished I could shed my skin and step out of it like a reptile. Everywhere I went, I felt uncomfortable and awkward, like a fish out of water. I didn’t feel like I fit in or belonged anywhere. Like I didn’t know where my place in the world was anymore. Even to this day, I’m still struggling with who I am without you. Each day as I progress on this widowhood journey, I’m constantly learning something new about me, you, and us. It’s odd to say this, but I feel like I’ve gotten to know you better and at a deeper after you passed. Maybe it’s because I have to interact with your family on my own now so I’m learning more about you through them. As my relationship with your family continues to grow and deepen, there’s so many new things I’ve learned about you.
I can honestly say, I know how you very well from the perspective of what you will do or how you will act in a situation, but I never really knew what you were thinking or feeling. You weren’t the type of person who shared your thoughts or feelings so I always had to guess. Over the years, I got really good at guessing what your thoughts and feelings were by your mood and actions. But honestly, I never really knew what you were thinking or felt. This was a source of contention between us at times since it was hard living with a person who didn’t express or share himself emotionally. But later I realized that if I was one of the closest persons to you, and you couldn’t express yourself emotionally to me, then it more likely that you didn’t know how and not because you didn’t want to. Somehow this revelation brought me to tears because I realized I finally understood something fundamental about you, but you’re not here to witness it. It’s a fundamental understanding about you that I learned too late. That I would never be able to adjust or change the way I reacted or interacted with you because of this new revelation. It made me realize even more, how death is so finite. Once that person dies, they are gone. It’s like they disappeared into the ether. No matter how much you miss the person, you can never see, talk, or touch that person again. Death is the most painful separation there is in life and grief is the ultimate price we have to pay for love.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.