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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Hour


One of the things Leslie told me I needed to do while we were in the hospital together, knowing the end was coming, was, "make friends."  I rarely went out even before Leslie was sick.  I preferred time with the family to time away.  I still do.  But now I feel like I need to be social with people.  Let them in.  Back then I didn't need friends.  I had Leslie.  She was always enough socialization for me. Now...

I went to a Happy Hour with work people a month or more ago.  First time I've done it in years.  Literally years.  At some point during the happy hour a girl, new to the company, was talking to me.  We had been talking about her husband and their dogs.  She pointed across the table to my ring and said, "I see you're married."  Asked me about it. 

I had known it was coming.  Had pictured that moment in my mind.  I didn't know it would be that night.  I thought about what I'd say.  How do you tell someone who has no idea that your wife recently died?  How do you do it in a way that doesn't make them feel like a total asshole?  I didn't let myself come up with an answer though, mentally changed the subject until just then, that night, and she popped that cherry and I found myself completely unprepared.

Everything now seems so pregnant with meaning.  I'm no longer officially married, but I wear a ring.  When do you take off your wedding ring?  Everyone tells me, "When it feels right."  It doesn't feel right.  But I can't help thinking about it.  When will it feel "right"?  That answer seems too simple.  It will never feel right, because the minute I think it feels right I will also feel like I'm betraying her.  Betraying us.  Facebook rolled out this new profile video thing, and I was like..."oooh, cool!" and before I could think about it, I took this stupid little 10 second video and it replaced my profile picture.  And a minute later I was like..."Shit!  That just changed it from the picture of Leslie and I!"  I used to change my profile picture relatively frequently.  Now I can't do it without second-guessing what messages people will glean from it. 

I took my ring off a couple nights ago and massaged my ring finger like she used to, and it made me think about this.  Then I slid it back on.  Maybe it will feel right someday.  Maybe everyone is right.  Whether they are or aren't...today is not that day.  But maybe I'll know when it is.

"Uhhh," I said, unhelpfully, looking down at my ring, twisting it nervously, "It's sort of weird situation."  It was a horrible non-answer.  I wanted to deflect the question, make it disappear, but my answer just invited curiosity.  She guessed wrong and congratulated me for getting out of a bad relationship.  I let out a long breath and said, more or less, "It's not that.  My wife passed away a few months ago."  And into the shocked inhalation and near comical gesture, her hand going to her mouth, immediate apology on her lips, mortification evident, I quickly said, "You had no way of knowing.  It's weird.  I have this ring, and it's obvious from the ring that I'm married, anyone would think it, and it's just that I'm not ready to take it off yet." Words tumbled out quickly, I tried my best to make her feel better.  It wasn't her fault.

Next to me was a woman who had lost her husband perhaps a decade before.  She pointed to her right hand and said, "I still wear mine.  I just moved it to my other hand." More apologies followed.  The night was ending anyway.  I'd had my beer.  Had my second.  Paid the tab.  I was leaving anyway...but what a way to end it.

So...I'm making friends.  Sort of.  

I miss just rolling out of bed and having a friend to talk to.  Not just anyone, obviously, I mean, I miss Leslie in particular.  But I mean, when you get married, assuming you get along as well as Leslie and I did, you always have adult conversation.  You always have company.  I miss Leslie specifically , but I miss company in general, and conversation, even arguments.  I don't want to make it sound pathetic, because I think somehow it always sounds pathetic when people say it, but I get lonely at times.  Not cripplingly lonely, it's not a cry for help, or an open invitation to drop by (I don't love that), but just missing the mundane day-to-day feeling of being around people I enjoy.  The banter.  Even the small talk.  It's out there for me all the time via social media or whatever, but in person is so much harder. 

I've gone to a local microbrewery a couple times with a couple different friends.  I'm realizing that "making friends" or even maintaining existing friendships requires a bit of work.  I'd love to just "go out" to grab a beer or two and come home, but I have to schedule it, line up a babysitter, that kind of thing.  It's one thing to talk to a friend about "grabbing a beer" and then a whole new thing to actually execute that plan.

I went to meet some "internet friends" recently.  It was fun, but even that wasn't without its strangenesses, since most of my internet friends are female, and I worry what Emma will think.  When I say I'm going to meet a friend from out of town and use the "she" pronoun, I immediately worry what she'll think.  We went to dinner and had drinks, and the idea of getting Uber or a taxi or something exhausted me as I then tried to figure out...how will I get my car back?  So I stopped drinking.  I got "lost" on the way home (phone gps wasn't updating as quickly as I needed it to) and ended getting home about 30 minutes late.  I ended up paying the sitter for 8 hours, and then thought...oh my god, has it really been eight hours??  But I left at 4:30 and I didn't get in until 12:30.  I paid her for an actual eight hour work day...  THAT shit will get expensive. 

And then I think...I had fun, I'd love to do it again, but think...Emma...money...get a sitter...and then think, "I'll give it some time."  Anyway...I started writing this post weeks ago.  The day after the happy hour, actually, and then forgot I started it.  Then I wrote a post for Healthline (which was sweet because I actually got paid for it) here:  http://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/explaining-death-to-children, and one for Glade Run (which was sweet because I got etc etc) here:  http://gladerun.org/blog/2015/10/06/you-should-have-written-this-post/.  But I think I'll write about the day we got married next. 

I can always go back in time and write about the stuff that we did before we were 'legit' another time, but we've been watching the video of our wedding a lot lately (Lily calls it "Mommy Video") and so it's pretty fresh in my mind.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for continuing to share your story, your writing is so honest and insightful.

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  2. worry not about the messages your actions send to anyone outside your house. do what feels right for you and the girls, when it does. hugs.

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  3. Oh Jim. You and the girls are loved the world over. As is Leslie. Always. This is your journey. There is no right way or right time that is "okay". There is only the right way and right time for you. Always your friend, debby

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