When you are widowed at a young age, your own life changes. Mine did after my husband died.
What I was not prepared for was change in those around me. And that a certain car was what would bring it to my attention.
A few years before my husband died, he bought a Jeep Wrangler. He had always wanted one and used it as an extra car. It was a two-door, red, no frills Jeep. It only had AM-FM radio and roll-down windows.
He loved that Jeep. I did also, especially in the summer. The car was so much fun to drive in the warm weather. I can still picture him in our driveway struggling to get that damn top down!
After he suddenly passed away, I had to make a lot of changes. One of the first things I needed to do was get rid of the Jeep. I could no longer afford an extra car, and I really had no use for it anymore.
The day I let that car go was tough for me, and I know it was for our daughters as well. That car meant so much to my husband, and it felt like another piece of him was leaving us.
There are little moments in those early years after he died that always stand out to me. When they happened, they are the ones that just slightly altered my view of my life.
It was hard to be the only one alone in a life full of couples. I was lucky in that I was always included in things with my friends after my husband died, but I always felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb. It seemed as if I had a huge sign on my head that read, “I’M THE WIDOW. MY PARTNER IS GONE!”
In order to constantly avoid being uncomfortable, there were some dinners and/or events that I chose not to attend. Sometimes it was easier to stay home alone.
Life goes on. We all need to keep moving forward no matter what the situation is. What I guess I did not realize was that everyone around me was making their own changes and that social circles are not set in stone.
One summer Saturday, after being widowed a couple of years, friends invited me to a last-minute afternoon get-together at their pool. I did not have plans, it was a beautiful day and I do love my friends, so I decided to go. I knew it would be all couples but these were my nearest and dearest and I knew I would be comfortable.
I threw on my bathing suit and cover-up, grabbed my beach bag and drove the five minutes to their house.
When I pulled into their driveway – there it was – a two-door Jeep Wrangler just sitting there. I had never seen that particular car before. My heart sunk. That car should be ours. My husband and I should be pulling up together in our red Jeep. But we weren’t. It was just me in my mom SUV staring at someone else’s Jeep.
I knew none of my friends had that car. The question was, who did it belong to?
I came very close to putting my car in reverse and just going home. But that would be rude. I took a breath and walked into the backyard by myself.
And there they were – a bunch of my friends with two new couples added in. I knew these couples – we all live in the same town and our kids were the same age. They were very nice people, they just weren’t MY people. And to top it off, one couple had driven there in the Jeep.
I suddenly felt as invisible as my husband was. It was as if both of us and our cute little car had been replaced.
I know that we were not. We were both still loved and thought of. I was so happy to be included in this day, as well as others. But that was the moment when I knew it was no longer the same.
I spent the afternoon there and had a perfectly nice time, but I declined the invitation when they all decided to go for dinner together. It was time for me to go home. It was also time for me to accept that all of our lives had changed..
A few short years later, my daughters had grown enough that I no longer needed that mom SUV. My next car? A Jeep Wrangler – this time in white. It is a four door and is definitely an upgrade from our old red Jeep in terms of additions. This car means so much to me. It is a symbol of my changing while always keeping a little piece of my husband with me. And it is still fun to drive.
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.