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Maybe it's because so many guys have called me "courageous," but as soon as I utter the word "widow," I sense I'm being seen as a living saint and that my marriage was flawless, which of course isn't true.
"You must have really loved him," a few men have said in awe.
But I felt torn between feeling very attached to his memory and also taking tentative steps toward a future without him.
Widowhood also has had a strange sanctifying effect on how men perceive me.
Although I decided to wear my wedding ring for a year after his death (as a respectful gesture to Frank and to keep unwanted male attention at bay), six months in, I felt ready to date.
I had started to miss companionship, the everyday pleasures of having a man in my life.
" One recent date loved to vent about his everyday stresses--the grueling hours he logged as a music producer, the intensely competitive nature of his work--but would stop himself by saying, "I know this is nothing compared to what you've been through." Maybe he was trying to be sympathetic, but it seemed as though, in some bizarre way, he resented my situation, that in terms of our life experience, the playing field wasn't even and his problems couldn't possibly bear any weight.
I rode beside him in ambulances to emergency rooms late at night.They hadn't, but I still felt comfortable discussing it with him.Perhaps because it didn't feel like a real date, only a hastily scheduled get-together, I felt none of the pressure that goes along with courtship.But he also helped me understand how alien and incomprehensible my situation must seem to someone who has not lived with such a loss.I've been dating for almost two years now--some guys lasted just one date, others for months at a time.
And this, the only appropriate designation, felt hard-earned.