Widowed at 27: I Still Leave the Porch Lights On For My First Husband

3 years ago

By Shangi for YourTango.com

Image: Loren Kerns

I still leave the porch light on for my dead husband, even after finding love a second time.

They say nights are the hardest to get through, so instead of sleeping in the bed we had shared, I decided to sleep on the couch. With fresh sheets in hand, I flipped over the end cushion and heard the crinkle of a candy bar wrapper. If he had been in the living room with me, I would have reprimanded him (as I had so many times!) and led him into the kitchen to show him where the garbage can was.

Now, as I picked up the wrapper, the last thing I wanted to do was throw it away. I held it in my hand while I tucked in the corners. I held it while I fluffed my pillow and straightened my blanket. I held it until I fell asleep, and I was still holding it when I woke up (about an hour later). Turns out, "they" were right; nights were the hardest to get through.

I had also heard people say that you should not suppress your tears, that you should let them come and go at will. So I did, relentlessly. I cried in the shower; I cried in the car. I cried while walking and talking; I even cried in my sleep. I had never felt an actual lump in my throat until then. People didn't really know how to deal with my emotions. I can't say I blame them. I didn't either; I just couldn't do anything else. That I was widowed at 27 is unimportant. I could have been 87 and the pain would have been the same.

Soon, my tears were replaced with solemnity. Unbeknownst to me, over a month had passed and, for the first time, I opened the front door. My mailbox was crammed with overdue statements and pre-approved credit card offers. According to my mail, he wasn't dead. I stood there with the envelopes in my hands. If he had been on the porch with me, I would have handed him the bills. Now, I just held them (like I'd held the candy wrapper).

I realized then that I had to find the strength to live without my husband. That was the day I realized that there was life outside of my house and inside of it, too. I turned the porch light on in memory of my husband that day. It was exactly noon.

Shortly after that day, I returned to work. The same people I'd left there were still there. "None of them died," I remember thinking on my first day back. I replaced my somberness with bitterness; I just wanted to do my job and go home. My lively co-workers had other agendas, however. They were all around my age, late twenties, all single and all encouraging. They invited me to join them for drinks after work, and they pushed me to dance when we got there. I know they did so with the best of intentions, but at the time I hated them. I hated them for smiling, for laughing and for dancing. I hated the fact that they had happiness and worse than that, I hated the pity they felt for me for losing mine. I hated all of them and I went home.

It went on for a while this way, work, home, work, home. One day, my car broke down and I had to take the bus to work. What started out as a crappy day, turned into a wonderful life. The man who sat down next to me became my second husband; we have been married for 15 years.

I haven't turned the porch light off since that day so many years ago, not even to change the bulb (I wrap my hand up in one of his old socks that I saved) and change it with the power still on. My current husband doesn't mind that the light stays lit and he doesn't mind that my tears still flow for my first, on occasion. Though they've diminished, they'll never stop completely. What were tears of sorrow for having lost are now tears of joy, for having had.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: My Husband Died When I Was 27, I'm Still Not Over It.

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