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I asked questions in oncologists' offices and took notes.
But it seems as though Frank's death smoothed all the rough edges off our relationship, leaving behind something ideal, untouchable, and intimidating to men.
Some guys have even turned my widowhood into a weird power struggle, a game of "Whose life is harder?
ONE MARCH AFTERNOON IN 2010, I logged on to Facebook and glanced at my relationship status.
My 42-year-old husband, Frank, had been dead for a month, but it still said "Married." Then, in a surreal, only-in-the-21st-century moment, I changed it to "Widowed." I hesitated, but I had to do it: No word but So, at age 39, after seven years of marriage, I was no longer married; I was a widow.
And one morning, when I left the hospice to feed our cats and make some calls, Frank died.
A chaplain led me by the hand to her office, and I sank to the floor, crying, deeply sad--and guilt-ridden--that I had not been with him at the very end.
One date was texting me regularly to make plans and tell me jokes, only to downgrade his correspondence to Facebook the more he learned about my past, then fade out completely.
He never conveyed the reason he bailed, but it was clear he wanted someone breezy and uncomplicated. In hindsight, I admit that wearing my wedding ring and discussing Frank may have signaled that I wasn't ready to move on.
At a young age, I concluded that widows were different from other women, set apart, other. Not long ago, I met a man with whom I instantly hit it off.