May 3rd is National Widow’s Day. Now don’t get that confused with International Widow’s Day. That’s on June 23rd. Widows have all the fun.
A widow is supposed to be a little old lady. She’s supposed to be sweet and tell stories of losing the love of her life after being married for a million years. A widow is not supposed to be in her thirties. But life can be so cruel.
I have the most amazing friend named Mamie. She is absolutely hilarious and we have so much fun together. We studied at the famed Second City together and made the most uproariously comedic writing duo. Ever. I always knew Mamie was an intelligent, strong, independent woman. But I didn’t know the truth depth of her strength until these past two years.
Mamie became a widow at thirty-five. That word and that number should never be in the same sentence together. But here I am typing them.
Mamie lost her husband and best friend two years ago today. I have watched her live these past two years living my worst nightmare. And amazing doesn’t even begin to describe what I have witnessed.
Mamie has three young children that she now has to be both mother and father to. She is setting an example for them that they won’t even realize for many years to come. These kids have been dealt a really shitty hand in life. But one day they will realize how lucky they are to have a mother like they do.
It’s all on her. Everything. She no longer has anyone to share the load with. And it’s a big freaking load. And it’s hard. And it’s not freaking fair.
She wasn’t given a freaking choice. She has to do what she does. And she has to do it all alone. She does not, however, have to do it all looking so incredibly fashionable, but she does. Always.
Every time I have talked to Mamie in the last year I’ve asked her how she’s doing. Her reply is always the same. Well, I made it three months. Well, I made it eight months. Well, I made it a year. She never says she’s doing fine. She never says she’s doing horrible. She just states the facts. She’s made it.
This is her life. This is her reality. She and her husband started this life together and she is left here to finish it.
Last Mother’s Day was her first as a widow. She took her kids to get ice cream and ran into our friend Flora. Flora was not in her right mind. She seldom is. And she had a touch of the postpartum.
Flora was having a conniption fit trying to get a cake. Mamie talked her off the ledge. She even offered to bake the damn cake for her. Later that week Flora received a lovely cake plate from Crate and Barrel with a card attached that read, “For all of your future cakes”.
Mamie takes care of everyone.
The reality of becoming a widow at thirty-five is that Mamie has become alienated. People stare at her. People treat her differently.
Everyone means well. Everyone has the best of intentions. But at the same time people don’t know what to do or say. Knowing a 35 year-old widow makes people extremely uncomfortable. So people start to avoid her. People stop calling. People stop coming over.
Mamie is as lonely as she is strong. Even though she is surrounded by family and friends there is a void in her life that only one person can fill. She goes to bed each night. Alone. She wakes up each morning. Alone. But she does it. Day after freaking day.
Knowing Mamie makes me a better mother. A better woman. A better person. A better friend.
I know from my own experiences that when you are in the depths of grief, you have to make a choice. You choose to let your grief bury you or you choose to live. Mamie chooses to live. Everyday. Like a freaking boss.
Happy Widow’s Day, Mamie!