I said these six words “I want my old life back” hundreds of times in the first year after Howie died. There was nothing else I wanted. I just wanted to turn back time and have everything the way it used to be. I hated that things changed.
Eventually I had to accept that this was not going to happen, so I changed my mantra from “I want my old life back” to “I want the Brady Bunch”.
If I couldn’t have the old life back, I wanted to find a widower with similar aged kids to mine. We would get married, all live together, have silly little problems that could be solved in 30 minutes and live happily ever after. I wanted to insert this person right into my old life. He would move to my town, become friends with all of my friends, my life would stay pretty much the same, and all would be ok.
I remember saying these things to my therapist at the time. I wasn’t even wishing for it to happen, I just assumed that it would. Why wouldn’t it? I couldn’t have my husband back so this would be the next best thing, and I deserved that. My kids and I had been through so much, so this should be how our story should continue.
Sadly, she explained to me that life does not always work that way. She told me that I might not meet a widower, he might be divorced. Or he might not want to slide right into Howie’s place. He may already have a life of his own with his own friends and family. Or I may not meet anyone in the near future that I would want to spend my life with.
She just didn’t understand, OF COURSE this was going to happen.
Guess who was right and who was wrong?
It is five years later and things changed. We are not living the life of The Brady Bunch. My life is very different from Carol Brady’s and also very different from my old life.
Different is not necessarily bad, just different. It turned out that although I thought I did, I didn’t really want to be in a serious relationship right away. I needed time to get my life together, and also to devote to my girls who really needed me. Now I am finally a little more settled into a new life, but it is of course not the way I assumed it would be.
Going through such a tragedy changes you, and it has changed me.
I don’t think I could be that person that I was five years ago. That person was great – she was a great mom, great wife, great friend, she was happy, she had a really good life. I could have stayed like that forever and all would have been right with the world.
Sadly, my husband died suddenly and like it or not, things had to change.
About a year and a half ago I went back to work, which really does change things a lot. I am no longer that stay at home mom. which makes my life much busier. Plus, I am a solo mom and my girls crave and deserve more of my attention, which always comes first. I have my writing and my yoga which are both priorities in my life now. I have a boyfriend who is beyond understanding about the life Iead. He was not just inserted into Howie’s place. I now know that would have been ridiculous and not fair to anyone. He has slowly come into my world, and I into his, and that works.
I like this new person I am becoming but it brings me to the question – where do I fit?
My friends and family have stood by me and have been beyond supportive and I love them. This has not changed. But while my life has taken a huge turn, theirs have not. I no longer have the flexibility that I used to. I would love to meet for lunch on a Thursday afternoon or take a walk on a beautiful Monday morning but I cannot. My weekends are filled with groceries and other errands, and doing for my girls.
Going out at night? I am so tired all I want to do is get in bed and watch my dvr. Vacations? I can’t always afford them. So other lives go on – lunches and dinners are eaten, vacations are taken, new friends are made, and it has become hard for me to be a part of that life now.
Plus it still makes me sad to see what could have been if Howie was still here. I miss it, I truly do. But I am actually starting to love my new life also.
I am torn between my two lives.
I can’t have my old one back – but I would like to find a way for my two lives to become one. I am hoping that eventually this can be done.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.