Becoming a Widow…Just As I Was About to Get Divorced
What it felt like to stand at the deathbed of my almost-ex-husband, with his girlfriend at my side.
Illustration by Kyle Smart
I was visiting my mom at her assisted living facility the other day, and chatting with the woman at the front desk. We talked about the traffic and my long drive home and I let it drop that I might want to sell my car. I sensed she might want to buy.
“It’s in great shape. Low mileage,” I said. “My late husband bought it new five years ago.” As soon as I uttered the words, I braced myself for what I knew was coming next. It would have nothing to do with cars.
“Oh, no!” she said, her eyes now wide and glistening. “I’m so sorry! How awful to lose your husband so young!” She shook her head. “So hard…” Her voice trailed off.
Her reaction – a sympathetic, well-meaning expression of compassion, pity and shock – was typical. When you’re widowed at 52, you get used to it. But no matter how often I hear it, it still makes me uncomfortable.
That’s because I’m not a typical widow. I was widowed on a technicality; my husband died while we were getting divorced.
Being widowed w…