Monday, May 15, 2017


I’ve been dreading this day. It’s our third wedding anniversary. The dread is not knowing how I would feel. Would I wake into the sadness of my loss or would I be able to do what anniversaries are for, relive the euphoria I felt in becoming that man’s wife?

Coming up on the day, it turns out—and probably predictably so—I’m all the things. I’m sad. I’m happy. I’m weighted yet light. I’m pitiable but almost unbearably lucky. I had him, and we were the kind of happy that defies realism. I was left broken. I was left bettered.

Choosing to learn to love that man in his language was me closest to perfect. Dealing with my ex-husband’s infidelity and doing what I could to try to salvage that marriage showed me I’m made of grit to spare. But being Jim’s wife softened my edges and taught me there is power in making love a priority.

One of the many specific things I’ve cried over since Jim died is not having him to serve anymore. Doing for that man delighted me. I can still do for others, yes, and I do, but they're not, you know, my other. There’s something to having a someone, your own person, that human with whom you’ve got a pocket of solace and that intimate relationship where you get the most practice in cultivating a best self.

Well, great. I had that. Had. Now what the hell am I supposed to do? Just end? Megan, you peaked. All downhill from here. For the next, like, 45 years.

I like remembering me as Jim’s wife. He went too long in his life being the one making everyone else happy without being catered to himself. I felt like a superstar giving him so much of what he merited such that my love overwhelmed him.

What if the memory of feeling that way isn’t enough to sustain me as long as I want it to?

Since my memories are more precious now I feel that much more fortunate to have them. Since he’s gone and I don’t get to make more, I feel that much more lonely. I’ve always been resourceful though. I can fix that. But when I think of solving the kind of loneliness losing a spouse leaves I feel sick. The only solution to that one is to date, right? Oh gosh, ew.

I can’t. I couldn’t. I simply never would.

But shit, I’ve had eight months to learn that all the yoga and writing and shopping and travel and friends and family that I can handle can’t fill the void of having my own someone.

You don’t top Jim. It isn’t done. Jim was the top. A person perfect for me. The funniest (just ask him), friendliest, most generous, most memorable. The cutest. So the solution has to be that you don’t try, right? You don’t try to top him and what we had. So then what's left is to have nothing or to open yourself to the possibility of something altogether different.

Good grief, what does that even mean? And when would it not make me want to vomit?

In muddling through this unsavory quandary I came across an analogy that works. Shoes. Partners as shoes. In my first marriage I wore a pair of shoes that constantly gave me blisters. They were scuffed and when I tried to shine them it was half-hearted. I covered my feet with bandaids. The blisters didn’t heal. So I got rid of those shoes and was relieved to walk barefoot. Then I bumbled into Jim, the best pair of shoes I was never interested in looking for. Comfortable, supportive, good for all occasions. Irreplaceable. And then lost. So I’m barefoot again, and it sucks. I can walk without shoes forever, sure, but now knowing how it feels to love a pair of perfect shoes, barefoot forever's sounding bleak.

Jim made my heart tick quicker and, if I’m being honest and nauseating, with more meaning. Maybe there is another someone in my future that can make my heart beat something more than sad and much too steady for how nice I think it would be to just die already. I’m young enough and lonely enough to start to consider the possibility. I’m recently widowed enough to want to throw up thinking about it and hate myself for the disloyalty of having the thought.

But dammit he died. Jim died. My heart-holder, love, and favorite thing died and left me alone. I'm 35 years old.

I didn’t know what to expect on our wedding anniversary, and I certainly didn’t expect this, to feel the kind of loneliness that looks to be motivating me to consider the option of new shoes.

My mom reminded me the other day that one of the things Jim would go on about regarding his wife was how capable I am, how I’m good at whatever I do. Usually the things I do are a choice, but grief was thrown at me, and I’m kind of crushing that too. He would be proud of how I’m working through this. I still want to make him proud. I felt like he was something to live up to. His memory is still that. I’m Jim’s wife. It amplified my awesome, and I have that to take with me. Considering that my happiness was his first priority, I can’t imagine he’d want me to be holed up and lonely forever.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. You taught me to make happiness a valid life pursuit. A happy person is more useful, they make life around them easier. It’s what you did. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t surrender to have you back. But since that’s not a thing, I’ll make more relevant what you taught me and how you made me feel.

Happy isn’t selfish. Happy is correct. Happy was my Jim. Like usual I wonder, “What would Jim do?” He would live huge, have fun, and by way of serving his people he would acquire joy. And then my boy would share it like gangbusters.

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