We were an average high school class. Brookhaven High School, Class of 1968.
We graduated one hundred fifty or so. That was a half century ago. The guys were head strong, ten feet tall and bullet proof. Tough enough to take on the world. The girls were princesses, waiting on Prince Charming to ride up.
We never gave much thought that we would start dying off.
About two years later, we had our first widow. It was an accident. The number has been growing ever since. Today, I have no idea how many of our class are widows
Each time we were shocked and surprised. Widow hood happens to old people. We were naive. Then again, we learned how the shock and surprise early on, is still a complete shock and a total surprise today.
I started naming and counting them on my fingers. Then I just stopped. Too many already.
There’s no way to prepare. That’s a cliché. I know.
I learned the hard way how a house changes when your parent dies. One day, someone you don’t know turns off the lights and then turns off the heat. The house is not the same. Even the air inside is different. I could never sit in my Dad’s chair.
I can ‘t imagine a widow walking into a house she once shared, moving his old coffee cup to get to her own.
My Mom never cleaned out my Dad’s closet after he died. Never. Now my siblings and I have that job, plus cleaning out hers as well. That’s a hard job to do. The old home place is cold on the inside.
Divorces are different. I think.
Somewhere there was a problem. Somewhere, a broken heart. But the other person is out there somewhere. At the very least, he can come by and clean up the mess he left. Take it with him. Or, she can throw it away.
A widow just looks at what’s left, shakes her head and cries.
Most of the widowed princesses we had in high school are alone and lonesome A few got lucky. They found another prince. Still, it’s not the same.
Every one had no idea their life would change. There’s no way to learn. You can’t very well Google “How to be a widow.” Amazon won’t overnight a replacement.
Today, I know more widows than I ever wanted to know. Most of them are younger than I am.
My wife and I are doing a lot of “retirement” planning this year. Some serious talk about dying. It’s either you or me. Talking about what’s going to happen afterwards. One or the other.
I think those widows from my high school class. They came home to an empty house with the cold air, the out of place coffee cup, broken dreams and broken hearts.
Today, they survive. There’s a lot of strength in a widow’s might.
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