This experience is so intensely personal that I am liable to forget how common it is. In that, being widowed resembles other great milestones of human life — first sexual experience, giving birth, facing death.... We must each experience these things as if no-one else ever had, because for each of us they are in fact unique. And yet, they are also so very common. We all get born; we all die. We don't all lose our virginity or have children, but many, many of us do, and have done over the centuries.
I become afraid of seeming self-centred, not so much here where the purpose of this blog is to record my personal experience of widowhood, but out there in the world at large, or at least in my community. I remember explaining to someone I'd just met that I'd been widowed recently. She said, a little testily, 'Yes, I was widowed two years ago,' and I realised I'd been talking as if I was the only person it had ever happened to. I imagine my personal grief to be more intense than anyone else's, my love to have been greater. But how can we measure grief or love? Both are subjective. I can only say this is my greatest love or most intense grief.
At the Life Writing group last week, we had to choose a topic beginning with the letter R. One woman chose Romance, and told the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. She was unable to stop herself from breaking down at the end, as she read, 'We were married for 45 years; then, four years ago, he died in a tragic accident.'
'Is that what I have to look forward to?' I thought. 'To still be sobbing four years from now?'
Ah, and why wouldn't I be? I can't imagine that I'll ever stop missing him.