No Zombies Here
My husband has been dead for over five years, which means our daughter has been fatherless more than half her life.
Sometimes we run into people we used to know, who recoil in horror and sadness, “Oh, I am SO sorry!”
The immediate shock and horror of death is long behind us, so it’s awkward when people get all Hollywood about it.
But day to day, it is still a bummer to be unpartnered through death.
The opposite end of the people who have a quick, dramatic intake of breath on learning of my husband’s death are the ones that shrug and say I should be over it.
This includes the IRS, by the way. I am no longer allowed to file my taxes as widowed. After two years of that, they made me change to “Head of Household.” Apparently I should have found a new husband by now.
I entitled this “No Zombies Here,” because the “you should be over it” crowd simply don’t have an understanding that dead is gone.
My friend Antigone gets it. Antigone, whose mother died when she was eleven, didn’t just have that week or month or year of crying and school friends whispering about her. When she had to buy school clothes, she didn’t have mom to help her. When she got her driver’s license that was without mom, too. Maybe she had an aunt to wave to when she graduated High School, but most of her friends got to hug their moms. She had dad to help with college applications, but no one else to give her encouragement.
Every Mother’s Day she has to look at the cards and be reminded that they don’t mean her. Every Christmas the ads that say, “treat mom” dig into her brain like ice picks.
My daughter’s father died before she could read well, before dad was anything but someone to play with. She may not feel the sting as much as someone who had dad longer. But she can’t go sit on dad’s lap when mom is angry. The things dad did well—and that I do not—are lost to her, and will never be found.
In a (healthy) 2 parent household, as I have seen, the parents can trade off on who stays home with a sick child, waits for the cable repair person, or makes dinner. The two incomes make a better foundation for children—or, if one parent stays home, that is a different kind of advantage.
Then again, even if I found another partner, fixing the who cares for a sick child problem, my daughter will never have her father –someone related to her, who gave her the genes that made her good at math–to exclaim over a good report card or help her deal with bullies.
No Zombies Here.
Dead is gone.