March 5th, 2014
I’m in the midst of finishing up the widower dating guide with a deadline of getting things to my editor no later than March 15. Therefore today’s post will be brief.
I was reading a philosophy book the other day and the following quote from the book made me stop and think:
“Love is for its own sake. It works only as a gift, never as a reward. It can’t be earned or bartered or insured. It is a grace and it is freely given or not given at all.”
Though that chapter of the book had nothing to do with dating, marriage or anything like it, it made me stop and think about some of emails that fill my inbox on a daily basis.
It takes the effort of two people to make a relationship work. If one person isn’t giving it their all or simply not as invested in the relationship (or its future) as the other person, at some point it will fall apart. Often the person who is trying the hardest to make things work wants things to work so bad they’ll do just about anything to make the other person care more about them and their relationships. Sometimes they’ll put up with bad behavior from the widower or his kids. Other times they’ll give up their careers, spend lots of money on the other person, or move halfway across the country in hopes that these actions will make the other person and appreciate them more.
Sadly, these sacrifices rarely, if ever, pay off. Usually the person who gave up everything is often left with nothing but a broken heart.
So if you find yourself in a relationship with a widower who doesn’t care about you or the relationship as much as you, stop trying to make him love you. Either he will give you his entire heart, or he won’t give you any of it. There’s not a lot of middle ground and nothing you can do to make him open it up to you. He will either love you for who you are or he won’t love you at all.
March 5th, 2014
February 26th, 2014
From the inbox comes the following series of questions:
Would you please clarify on your blog, whether you dated both ‘Jennifer’ and Marathon Girl – at the same time, whilst keeping each of them a secret from each other, fits the definition of two-timing or ‘hedging your bets’?
In your book and blog, your account of that situation seems to differ; in some descriptions you imply you made a clean break with Jennifer ‘before’ you met and courted Marathon Girl – yet your book depicts that you did not end your relationship with Jennifer until you had ‘first’ simultaneously secured your relationship with Marathon Girl, both of whom you dated/courted – at the same time.
The account in Room for Two is accurate. I started a long distance relationship with Jennifer a few months before I met Marathon Girl. There were a couple months where was trying to win over Marathon Girl while still having the long distance relationship with Jennifer. Once things got serious with Marathon Girl, I ended it with Jennifer. If I’ve ever implied on my blog that I made a clean break with Jennifer before I got serious with Marathon Girl, that was certainly not my intent.
What I did was wrong. Very, very wrong and if I could go back in time and do things differently, I’d have ended things with Jennifer as soon as I started running in the mornings with Marathon Girl. At the time I very emotionally confused about what it meant to fall in love the second time. The relationship with Jennifer never felt right—even when we were first dating. I thought this was because I was still trying to move on from my late wife’s suicide and once that happened the relationship with Jennifer would feel right.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that I had misgivings about my relationship with Jennifer because it wasn’t the right relationship for either me or her. It had nothing to do with opening my heart to someone else and everything to do with opening it up to the wrong person. It wasn’t until Marathon Girl and I had been serious for several months that I realized that the same feelings I had for the late wife were the same feelings I had for the late wife. Once this clicked in my brain, all the feelings I had for Jennifer made sense.
I share this not as a justification or excuse for my behavior but to add some context as to why I behaved in such a manner.
Would you have kept Jennifer if things between you and Marathon Girl, did not work out?
The relationship with Jennifer might have lasted a little longer but not much. My relationship with Jennifer was stressful in a lot of ways and the distance between the two of us didn’t help matters. I doubt it would have lasted through the summer.
Is this scenario normal for widowers, and if so why? Is it excusable for widowers, but not other men?
Based on emails from women dating widowers over the years, I’d say it’s not normal. But it does happen on occasion. I think about half of the widowers who behave in this manner are, like me, emotionally confused about how they should be feeling and simply attach themselves to someone because they want companionship—even if it’s with someone they don’t truly love.
That being said, the other half are simply predators who enjoy two-timing (or three-timing) the women they date. These men know what they’re doing and enjoy playing this game with as many women as possible. Be wary of such men. Their actions aren’t based on confusion but simply because they love seeing what they can get away with and playing games with other people’s feelings.
I do not find this kind of behavior excusable in the least. It doesn’t matter if the guy is a widower or not.
What would you advise women who find themselves in Marathon Girl’s situation, to do, if they find out at the last minute that their Widower had been keeping another lady in the wings/on the side, a secret during the entire dating/courtship, in case things between the two of you, didn’t work out?
Dump him. Wash your hands of him and move on. You deserve better.
But wait, you say, Marathon Girl didn’t end things with you when she found out about Jennifer.
Yeah, you’re right. She didn’t end things but I sure wouldn’t have blamed her if she had.
As to why she didn’t end it with me, I’ll let her answer that question for herself.
Marathon Girl: Abel and I were not dating each other exclusively at the time he told me about Jennifer. Though we had a couple of good dates when he finally told me about her, we weren’t to the point where I we had agreed to date only each other. When I was first dating Abel, I was still dating other guys and Abel wasn’t aware of that. I was still leery about dating a widower and kept hoping that things would work out with one of the other guys so I could tell Abel that I had a boyfriend and end things with him. Had we been in a serious relationship and dating each other exclusively, I would have felt and reacted differently about Jennifer. There would have been no second chances and we wouldn’t be celebrating 11 years as husband and wife this week since we never would have gotten married in the first place.
That being said, I don’t feel like I’m in the same position as the letter writer. It sounds like she is in a more committed relationship then Abel and I were when this information about a second woman came out. Unless he can give you a really good reason as to why he had a woman on the side (and let’s face it, there isn’t one) while in a serious relationship with you then I’d end it. He’s not worth your time.
February 26th, 2014
February 19th, 2014
Today Marathon Girl answers more of your questions. You can see what questions she answered last week here.
Question from Tiffani: How did you deal with Abel’s “moments” where he struggled with memories, grief, or other things related to the death of his wife?
I tried to be supportive of his needs and loss by letting him talks about it (if he felt like it) and work through it. I even encouraged him to write a book about it if he felt that would be helpful since he enjoyed writing so much. (Note: Room for Two is what resulted from that suggestion.)
Even though I did everything I could to be supportive, it was hard to see Abel sad and thinking about someone that wasn’t me. Don’t kid yourself and think that these moments are a walk in the part because they’re not. But at the same time I didn’t want Abel to bottle it up and not feel that he couldn’t talk to be or be with me when those moments hit. I felt it was better to know how he was doing (even if it hurt) than pretend that everything was okay when that may not have been the case.
Question from Jessica: Who did you get support from when you needed to discuss your relationship with Abel? Friends? Family? Someone else?
Even though my family is big on communicating and talking to each other about relationships and just about anything else, it was hard to talk to my mom, sisters and others that I normally relied on for support. It wasn’t that my mom and other family members didn’t want to help but they really didn’t know how to help me as none of them had experience with dating a widower. At least I could talk to Abel about it. It took some time but I was finally able to get him to see what it was like for me and the struggles I was dealing with even if he there wasn’t anything he could really do to overcome my own insecurities and feelings about dating widower. In the end I had of had to blaze my own trail and trust my gut that I was doing the right thing and making the right choices.
Question from Anonymous: What was the hardest thing for you about dating a widower?
That no one knew exactly how hard it was to date a widower or all the issues that I had to make peace with. A lot of people thought it was like dating someone who had been divorced when it was nothing like that at all. A lot of Abel’s family and friends would say or do things that made it more difficult whether it was someone on the day we got engaged saying that Krista would be okay with Abel remarrying or condolence cards that came in on the anniversary of her death after we were married. I don’t think they did it with the intention to hurt my feelings but their actions seemed focused on Abel or Krista. My thoughts and feelings usually weren’t taken into consideration.
Looking back, I wish a lot of the support groups for women dating widowers that exist now would have been around eleven years ago when we were dating. I think it would have been a lot easier for me if I had someone to talk to who was experiencing similar things.
February 19th, 2014
February 12th, 2014
Last week one of the threads on the Dating a Widower Facebook group spawned a series of questions. After reading Room for Two, someone wanted to know more about Marathon Girl’s side of the story. So I took some questions from the ladies of the group and asked Marathon Girl to answer them. I’ve posted the first two questions below.
If you have other questions you’d like to ask Marathon Girl, post them in the comments below or send me an email and we’ll post them in the coming weeks.
Question from Lorie: How did you know Abel was ready to move on and make you number one?
Marathon Girl: The first big sign to me that Abel was ready to move on was he put his old wedding band away for good. To me that was the last big thing from the past he was holding on to. Mentally I think he was ready to move on but he still had to take that step of taking it off and putting it away. Once he took that step, I was ready to have conversations about the two of us spending the rest of our lives together. After that it was making sure that his actions matched his words. There wasn’t much debate in my mind that he wasn’t ready. There were small setbacks from time to time but mostly there were giant leaps forward. I couldn’t have married him if I had any doubts about his readiness to make me the center of his universe.
Two questions from Jessica: 1) After reading Room for Two, I want to know why you decided to go to the cemetery with Abel on anniversary of his late wife’s death. 2) Why did you want to know so much about Krista when the two of you were dating?
Marathon Girl: Losing a spouse helped make Abel the man he was then and is today. I didn’t want to cut myself from that part of his life. I wanted to see how Abel was doing and have a better understanding of where he was. I also wanted to support him if he needed me. I didn’t think I could do that staying at home. It wasn’t an easy thing to see your husband crying over someone that he loved but I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do for Abel and our relationship. I have no regrets about that decision and am glad that I did it.
As for your second question, I’m an inquisitive person by nature. Abel loved someone enough to marry her. In order to better understand Abel and where he was coming from and what he had been through, I needed to know more about his relationship with Krista. If I pretended that she never existed, I’d be losing out on learning more about Abel and who he is and what made him the man that he was when I was dating him. It was also good to know about the kind of relationship Abel wanted the second time around. I’m glad I did it as I was able to get a better picture of the man I was dating and how his first relationship influenced and shaped him.
February 12th, 2014
February 5th, 2014
Just a reminder that if you’re dating or married to a widower, consider joining the Dating a Widower group on Facebook. There’s a great group of ladies there who are there to listen, laugh and cry with you, and help you through any issues you’re experiencing.
When I asked Marathon Girl to marry me, one of her sisters was living in Illinois. Since she wasn’t able to hear our engagement story in person, we decided to make an audio recording of what happened and send it off to her. We made the recording, mailed it off, and I forgot all about it.
Last weekend my sister-in-law said she was going through some things and found the recording we made. She converted the recording to digital format and emailed it to me. After listening to it, I thought I’d share it in part so readers know that dating a widower can actually turn into marriage. Also, I thought it would be fun to hear our engagement story as I don’t think it’s one I’ve publically shared before.
You can listen to the story at the MP3 link below. It runs about 4:30 in length.
Abel and Marathon Girl Engagemnt Story (MP3)
February 5th, 2014
February 2nd, 2014
By the score 28-17.
Oh, come on. You didn’t really think I was going to pick the Seahawks did you?
February 2nd, 2014
January 31st, 2014
This is what happens when your birthday falls on Chinese New Year. (Click on image for larger version.)
January 31st, 2014
January 30th, 2014
Awhile back I wrote about an great obituary that appeared in the local paper. Though the one below isn’t written in the first person, I thought it gave great insight in the deceased. Wish more obituaries did that.
Leonard Mason Smith, 86, a veteran of World War II and Korea and longtime resident of Pine Island, Florida passed away on November 27th, 2013.
Leonard Smith was a very private man. If you wanted to know his cause of death, he would have told you that it was none of your business. If you asked Penny, his beloved wife, she would tell you that he had cancer, but not to tell anyone. Although his prognosis was dire, he battled on, lived his life and survived several years beyond the experts’ expectations. He did not want his obituary to suggest that he lost a long battle with cancer. By his reckoning, cancer could not win, and could only hope for a draw. And so it was. Leonard Smith hated losing.
Leonard Smith hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.
Leonard Smith would have thought that this obituary was about three paragraphs too long.
Read the full obituary here.
January 30th, 2014
January 22nd, 2014
For those who want to read the story of how I met Marathon Girl and started a new life with her, Room for Two is now available for Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Kobo.
Back in 2009 a journalism student named Artis Henderson emailed me to ask if I was willing to be interviewed about my experiences of being a widower and moving on. I agreed to the interview. The article she was writing never made it to print. However, she did pull some quotes from the interview and use them in her relationship column for a Florida newspaper.
Fast forward to 2013 and we reconnected via Twitter. As I read a little more about her, I noticed that she too was a widow. I checked the dates of and realized that she was a widow when she interviewed four years earlier though, to her credit, she didn’t disclose that fact when she spoke with me. I noticed she had a memoir, Unremarried Widow coming in January 2014 and she asked if I wanted an advanced copy. I took her up on the offer. I wasn’t asked to write a review of her book in exchange for the copy but decided to do so anyway because after reading it I thought that the book might be helpful to readers of this blog.
At its core, Unremarried Widow is a love story—and a beautifully written one at that. It’s the story how Artis fell in love with her husband Miles (despite being his polar opposite in so many ways), losing him in an army helicopter crash in Iraq, and put her life together after the fact. It also weaves in the story of Artis childhood and mother who was a widower herself after losing her husband to an airplane crash and the similarities of their experience, grieving, and moving on.
Though I always knew that men and women grieved differently, it wasn’t until I read Unremarried Widow that I really understood what that difference really is. The biggest one is that women grieve in groups. Though only briefly mentioned, Arits spends time with a grief group in Florida and a military support group. There she finds women that she can lean and rely on and help her give strength to move on. Men are rarely present at these groups and when they are there, they don’t last long. (At one point the women in the group joke that the widowers who didn’t show up for the weekly session were probably out on a date. I don’t think they realized that the widowers were probably doing just that.)
The other big difference is that widows don’t have an internal need for a relationship that widowers do. Arits goes back to school to fulfill her dreams of being a writer—something she put on hold as she moved from base to base with Miles. She travels. She works for a newspaper. She goes back to school. She does have a few short relationships but dating again isn’t a priority or a necessity for putting her life back together. And even though she still misses Miles, life and her decisions take her on a path where she rediscovers herself and how to be happy with her new life as a widow.
Where Artis really gets kudos from me, however, is that when presented with evidence that her husband’s helicopter crash may not have happened the way the Army said it did, Artis refuses to get dragged down into an extended investigation. Instead she focuses on moving on and adjusting to her new reality declining repeated attempts from the widow of the other pilot to get at the truth. Such a thing is hard to do but Artis manages to do it with kindness and grace.
Unremarried Widow is one of the few grief memoirs that I’ve been able to read from cover to cover. That’s because it’s not about grief but love, hope, and redefining your life when life takes an unexpected turn.
You can purchase a copy of Unremarried Widow here. Follow Artis on Twitter here.
January 22nd, 2014
January 16th, 2014
I apologize that this column is a day late. I’m at a marketing and sales conference all week and have little time to do any personal writing.
When widowers start dating again, they generally start looking for someone that is similar to the late wife. They might pursue someone who looks like her, has similar interests, or a similar personality. For example, when I was dating the second time, I would generally go out with people who were creative and artistic or had similar interests as my late wife.
There’s nothing wrong with this per se. It pretty normal and natural to pursue someone that has attributes or interests that we’re already comfortable with. After all, it might make the transition to a new relationship easier. However, the problem I notice with this is that some widowers almost expect the women to do things just like the late wife did them and have a hard time dealing with the fact that these women come with their own personality and interests.
So if you’re a widower in this position or out dating game, here are some things to think about before getting to serious with someone:
- No one is going to be exactly like your late wife. No one. No matter how many women you date, they’re all going to be unique and different. They’re all going to have things you love about them and things that drive you crazy. What you need to decide is why you’re attracted to the woman. Is it because she’s an amazing person in her own right or that she reminds you enough of the late wife that it eases your grief and the pain in your heart? If it’s the latter, you’re bound to be disappointed as you get to know her better.
- Don’t be afraid to date outside your comfort zone. It never hurts to go on one date with someone who may seem to be the polar opposite of the late wife. You may be surprised that you have more in common than you think.
- When you fall in love the second time, I mean REALLY fall in love with someone, a lot of that stuff you may think is important suddenly goes out the window. When I started dating the second time, I thought I needed to be with someone who was creative, artistic, and outgoing. I ended up marrying someone who was scientific, logical, and reserved. Yet I was head over heels crazy for her. I still am. What I learned from the experience is that when we meet the right person, we just know it and we’re willing to love them for the person they are–faults, good things, and everything in between.
Dating the second time is quite an adventure. Don’t be afraid to see all the different options out there. You might be surprised at what you find.
January 16th, 2014
January 9th, 2014
The new edition of Room for Two is now available on iTunes and Kobo. Life with a Widower is also (finally!) available in iTunes. Links to each book are below.
Room for Two
Life with a Widower
Room for Two
For those who want to get a taste for these books you can read the first chapters below.
Room for Two chapters 1-3
Life with a Widower chapter 1: What You Permit You Promote
January 9th, 2014
January 8th, 2014
The following comment was left on a recent Widower Wednesday post.
I hope you can help me. I’m at my wits end. I’m a WOW for 2 1/2 years now. His deceased spouse died 4 years ago of cancer. They were married for 40 years and had no children. We have had a very difficult marriage and I have been talked down by his in-laws. He has never stood up for me in any situation. I had told him right after we married, I did not want to be around any of her family. It makes me very uncomfortable and I feel like I’m swimming with sharks. I told him I would not stop him if he wanted to visit them, but do not try to force them on me. Well, this past Monday, we were discussing him sending out Christmas cards by himself and only to his family and friends. I was upset and he told me he had sent some to his in-law family. He said he signed both out names. I was not upset and told him that was fine. He started in about he wanted a relationship with his old in-laws and wanted me to be involved too. I told him I wasn’t there and didn’t want to be forced. He got very upset and said he didn’t think he should have to associate with my Mother’s side of the family.(???) So, I told him that I’m a part of my Mother’s family and since he felt that way, he did not have to be with me, but could spend the holidays with his old in-laws. He started screaming and cursing me, as usual. I think he has anger issues and will start calling me names. I left and haven’t been back and he hasn’t bothered to call. I am feeling he has never had any respect for me and I just want out. Please help.
Sometimes it’s easy to confuse widower issues with bigger relationship issues. Based on what you’ve described, it sounds like there more here than him simply making room in his heart for you.
If screaming and cursing at you is normal, there are serious anger issues that need to be addressed by a professional. It’s not a widower issue—it’s a verbal and emotional abuse issue. You can’t help him overcome this. You made a wise decision to leave and not go back. Returning won’t improve anything. Odds are he’s had this problem long before you came into his life. Yes, he needs to stand up for you with the (former) in-laws, but that’s not going to change until he gets his anger issues under control and treats you like you like a queen.
So take a deep breath and start adjusting to live without him. It may be a heart-breaking struggle to get yourself out of this relationship but long-term it will be the best decision you ever made. You’ll be in an emotionally, spiritually, and physically better place once you’re able to put this behind you.
Readers, what advice would you give Help?
January 8th, 2014
January 2nd, 2014
Good news. Room for Two is now available for Nook e-readers and on Smashwords.
Get it for Nook.
Get it from Smashwords.
More formats coming soon.
January 2nd, 2014
January 1st, 2014
Just a reminder that Room for Two is available for the Kindle here. Formats for Nook and other e-readers will be available in the next 10 days or so. A paperback version will be coming late January or early February.
I don’t remember the last thing I said to Krista, but I know it was not “I love you.” Even when I think long and hard about our final conversation, our last words to each other elude me, which is probably for the best.
The last time we spoke was on the phone. There was shouting. A lot of shouting. Though in hindsight it seems like it was all on my end; I don’t remember Krista sounding angry or frustrated. Our conversation ended when I threw the phone down in disgust. When I arrived at our apartment twenty minutes later, I was furious. I slammed the door to the car, feeling the muscles in my arm clench.
In the pale light of the November afternoon, the fourplex had a dreary, mournful look. Brown leaves, having long lost their cheery autumn reds and yellows, were scattered over the matted grass. I looked up at the apartment window, hoping to see some sign of Krista. The blinds were closed and the lights were off. The place looked deserted. My anger began to morph into fear.
I took the concrete steps two at a time to our apartment. I paused and took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm down before opening the door. I didn’t want to come into the apartment yelling. Maybe the whole day had been some kind of misunderstanding.
I inserted the key into the lock and opened the door. The apartment was in the same condition I left it. A pile of cardboard boxes lay flattened and stacked neatly in one corner of the living room. Other boxes, half full of computer games and books, were stacked against the far wall. Yesterday’s newspaper was scattered on the floor; a color photograph of a police standoff was displayed prominently on the front page. The apartment itself was ghostly quiet, as if no one had lived there for years.
“Sweetie, I’m home.” I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn’t want to have another argument — at least not right away.\
A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall.
Everything slowed down.
I screamed Krista’s name and started toward our bedroom. My legs felt heavy, like I was running through waist-deep water. As I entered the room, the acrid smell of gun smoke filled my nostrils. Krista lay slumped against unpacked boxes of clothing along the far wall.
I screamed and moved to Krista’s side. This couldn’t be real, could it?
Krista’s blue eyes stared straight ahead. Her body trembled as if she was suffering from a mild seizure. My Ruger 9mm handgun laid next to her body on the corner of a white packing box. A wisp of blue smoke floated from the barrel.
I grabbed the cordless phone from the nightstand and dialed 911.
Krista’s body shuddered violently. Blood began flowing from the back of her head, down the boxes, to the floor. The sound of the blood as it hit the boxes reminded me of water coming out of a squirt gun.
I kept expecting to hear a ringing sound on the other end of the phone but there was only silence. I pulled the receiver away from my ear. Had I dialed 911? What was taking them so long to answer?
I was about to hang up and dial again when a faint female voice broke through the silence. “911. What is your emergency?”
“Send help!” I screamed into the phone. “My wife just shot herself!” My voice shook as the words tumbled out of my mouth. I pressed my hand against Krista’s seven-month pregnant belly, hoping for some indication that our unborn daughter was still alive. I couldn’t feel any movement.
“What is your address?” the operator asked.
I opened my mouth, but no words came out. We had moved into the apartment a week earlier, and I hadn’t memorized our address. Then, amid all the chaos, there was a moment of clarity. I remembered the landlord had written our address on the back of his business card when I signed the lease. I pulled the card out of my wallet and relayed the information to the operator, my voice sounding calm, as if I were giving her directions to a party. Then the moment was gone and panic returned.
“She’s pregnant,” I sobbed into the phone. “She’s pregnant.”
The 911 operator asked if I knew CPR. I did. I knew what to do — breathe into the mouth, push on the chest — but instead I did nothing. I just sat there horrified.
Krista’s eyes now had a dull look to them, as if the blue had suddenly turned gray. Then her body stopped shaking. The pool of blood continued to grow. The operator’s words faded into white noise. I knelt at Krista’s side for what felt like hours, waiting, hoping to feel the baby move.
At some point I became vaguely aware of the distant wail of a police siren. It grew louder until it sounded like it was right outside the door. Then everything was quiet. I stood, frantic that the police had driven past. I took several steps toward the living room when I heard a quick knock followed by the sound of someone opening the front door. A moment later a police officer entered the bedroom. His eyes went from me to Krista to the gun lying near Krista’s head. He stood in the middle of the room, as if he wasn’t sure what to do. \
“Help her!” I screamed.
The officer moved to Krista’s side and put his fingertips on her neck to check her pulse. I took a step toward him, wanting to help. His eyes darted to the gun.
“Get out of the room,” he said firmly. He said something into the radio that was attached to his shoulder, then brought his ear to Krista’s mouth to see if she was breathing. He pulled her legs, as if moving a piece of delicate china, so she was lying flat on the floor. The box where Krista’s head had rested was soaked with blood.
“Get out,” he repeated. This time he looked right at me and pointed to the door. I took one step back.
“Go!” he said.
I took another step back. It was like I was in a dream, running toward a cliff. Even though jumping off was the last thing I wanted to do, my legs kept moving until I toppled over the edge.
I took a third step when I heard a noise just outside the bedroom door. I turned and nearly bumped into another police officer. He rushed past me as if I didn’t exist. The two officers talked quickly, quietly. I could not understand what they said. All I could hear was that one gunshot over and over. Its echo blasted the walls inside my head.
The first officer started chest compressions while the second breathed into Krista’s mouth. I stepped back into the living room. A third officer brushed past me on his way to the bedroom. He returned a moment later and told me to sit on the couch.
I sat down. The third police officer stood between me and the bedroom. He was young with blond hair. Most of his attention was focused on whatever was happening in the other room. Occasionally he glanced back at me.
It was then that I realized I was still holding the phone to my ear. The 911 operator was talking, asking me questions. Her voice was still calm and collected. It pulled me away from the chaos inside the apartment.
“Are the police there?” she asked.
“Are they performing CPR?”
“I don’t know. They told me to leave the room.”
“Has an ambulance arrived?”
The living room window was located directly behind the couch. I turned and peeked through the blinds. Three police cars were in the middle of the street, their red and blue lights still flashing. A dozen people had gathered on the far side the street and were pointing to the apartment, shrugging their shoulders. I could hear other sirens in the distance, growing louder.
“I don’t see an ambulance,” I said.
“I’m going to stay on the phone with you until it comes,” the operator said.
The blond police officer took a step toward the bedroom. He spoke with the other officers and then said something into his radio. I heard the words “ambulance” and “quickly.” The rest of his words were drowned out by the approaching sirens.
More police arrived. Soon the apartment was filled with blue uniforms and silver badges. The air was a cacophony of wailing sirens. One of the officers said something about getting the crowd to remain on the other side of the street and immediately two officers headed outside. Another siren — this one different from the others — grew loud, then abruptly ended. I pulled the nearest corner of the blinds aside just as the ambulance stopped in front of the apartment. Without another word to the 911 operator, I hung up the phone.
Two paramedics, black bags in hand, ran to the apartment. An officer directed them to the bedroom. A minute later one of them quickly exited. Through the blinds I watched him retrieve a stretcher out of the back of the ambulance. The sight of the stretcher gave me hope that Krista was still alive.
“Is she going to be all right?” I asked the officer who was still standing watch. His attention wasn’t on me when I spoke. His head snapped back at the sound of my voice.
“What did you say?” He seemed surprised that I had spoken.
“My wife. Is she going to be all right?”
The officer approached and squatted in front of me so we were at eye level. His pale blue eyes told me everything before he spoke. “I’m sorry,” he said. “She died a few minutes ago. We did everything we could to save her. But there’s a chance the baby is still alive. We’re going to transport your wife’s body to the hospital.”
I took a deep breath and looked at the floor. I told myself that at any moment I would wake up screaming. I waited for everything around me — the apartment, the police, and the voices in the bedroom — to fade into blackness. But the noise and color and the smell of gun smoke remained.
I looked up at the officer, hoping he’d tell me it was all a joke, but he wasn’t looking at me anymore. His attention was focused on the couch. I followed his gaze. Next to me lay a gun case and a plastic bag filled with 9mm bullets. The lock to the gun case lay between them. The bullet casings sparkled like gold coins.
“Why don’t you sit over here?” the officer said. He pointed to a glider rocker next to the couch. I sat in the chair — the one Krista and I had bought so we could rock our new baby — but wasn’t able to take my eyes off the gun lock and the bullets. In my mind, I pictured Krista kneeling clumsily next to the couch, her protruding belly in the way, unlocking the case, and then methodically loading the clip with bullets before walking back to the bedroom.
The phone rang. The sound was piercing. Someone had set the ring on high. The police ignored it. I waited for the answering machine to pick up. It didn’t. I waited for the person on the other end to hang up. The phone continued to ring. A police officer came back from the bedroom and said something to the blond officer. The ringing drowned out their conversation. I stood up, half expecting to be ordered back to the chair, but the officer’s attention was on whatever was happening in the bedroom. I walked to the phone, picked up the receiver mid-ring, and hung up.
The next thing I knew the blond officer was standing by my side. I thought he was going to say something about the phone. “I need you to move to the kitchen,” he said. “They’re going to move your wife’s body to the ambulance. You don’t want to see this.”
I didn’t want to go to the kitchen. I wanted to ride with Krista to the hospital. I wanted to see my baby daughter brought into the world alive and healthy. I tried to remember how many minutes an unborn baby could survive in the womb without oxygen from its mother.
“Sir,” the officer said. He motioned in the direction of the refrigerator with his head.
My body obeyed the command and walked to the kitchen.
The small kitchen was in the far corner of the apartment but set up in such a way that I was shielded from the living room. I leaned against the electric stove and stared at the floor.
Grunts emanated from the living room as the stretcher made the tight corner to the front door. There was a metal clang as the stretcher bumped against the wall.
“Careful,” someone said.
Yes, be careful, I thought. You can save the baby. Maybe, by some miracle, you can save Krista, too. Modern medical science can perform miracles.
The stove was beginning to dig into my back, but I didn’t move. The officer looked into the living room, then back at me. The sounds of the people carrying the stretcher faded away, and then the front door closed. Silence filled the apartment.A minute later, the ambulance siren roared to life, then quickly faded into the distance.
I returned to the glider rocker. I tried not to stare at the objects on the couch when I walked past and instead focused on the conversations of the police. One of them said, “What are we going to do with him?” and motioned toward me. The other officer shrugged.
The remaining police milled about the apartment. No one spoke to me. It seemed like I sat in the rocker for hours before one of the officers said, “I need you to come with me.” I looked up. There were only two officers in the apartment now. The officer that spoke to me was thin with curly brown hair. His eyes were hidden behind a dark pair of sunglasses. I thought it odd that he was wearing sunglasses indoors. The other officer held a large roll of yellow crime scene tape in his hands.
“Where are we going?” I said.
I followed the officer outside. I half-expected to be greeted by the crowd and flashing red and blue lights. Instead, there were only two police cars parked parallel to the curb; the lights on the top of the cruisers weren’t flashing. The crowd I saw earlier had returned to the surrounding apartment buildings. I wondered if I’d seen any people at all. Maybe my mind had been playing tricks on me. With the exception of the police cars, the street looked just like it had when I arrived. The officer opened the passenger side door of his vehicle. I looked back at the apartment and watched as the other officer taped off the door with crime scene tape.
January 1st, 2014
December 25th, 2013
Here’s a complete list of 2013 Widower Wednesday columns. See you all in 2014!
January 2 | Don’t Waste Your Life
February 6 | Valentine’s Day and Marriage
February 13 | How to Talk to a Widower
February 20 | Life with a Widower Cover
February 28 | Chapter 1: What You Permit, You Promote
March 6 | Life with a Widower Now Available
March 13| Medicating Grief
March 20 | The Late Wife’s Breasts Are Bigger Than Mine
March 27 | Dating and Wedding Rings
April 3 | Love the Second Time Around
April 10 | Wanting to Date Again
April 17 | Gifts for a Widower
April 24 | Finances, Prenups, and Wills
May 1 | Widowers, Children, and Blending Families
May 8 | Becoming One
May 15 | What I Learned at Boot Camp
May 22 | Let’s Be Friends!
May 29 | Guilt, Boundaries, Consequences, and Parenting
June 5 | Guilt, Boundaries, Consequences, and Parenting, Part II
June 12 | Telling Women I’m a Widower
June 19 | Does my Widower Need Professional Help?
June 26 | Looking for Stories
July 3 | Guest Post: Are you Ready to Date a Widower?
July 10 | The Importance of Communication and Support
July 17 | Grief and Culture
July 24 | Life with a Widower Excerpt: When It’s Over, It’s Over: How to Avoid Getting Burned Again
July 31 | Honoring the Late Wife
August 7 | Filling the Hold vs. Falling in Love
August 14 | Leading by Example
August 21 | I Said “Yes!” When I should have Said “No!”
August 28 | Survivor Guilt
September 4 | LTS
September 11 | I’m Marrying a Widower in Two Weeks. Help!
September 18 | Divorced vs. Single vs. Widowed
September 26 | Podcast: Getting it Together After Loss
October 2 | Social Media and Public Grief
October 16 | How Joe Biden, Thomas Edison, Pierce Brosnan, and Paul McCartney got their Groove Back, Part 1
October 23 | How Joe Biden, Thomas Edison, Pierce Brosnan, and Paul McCartney got their Groove Back, Part 2
November 20 | Be Grateful
November 27 | I’m a Secret from the In-Laws!
December 4 | Stay Classy
December 11 | The Widower Wants to Get Back Together. What Should I Do?
December 18 | My Widower Spends More Time Talking to Others than Me. Help!
December 25th, 2013