Friday, February 26, 2010

the bomb

Image from Heberger

Also posted on Widow's Voice

Occasionally, I will meet a stranger in a line-up or a clerk at the store who notices my oft-perceived masculine purchase of a hammer, a litre of oil or a case of beer. Sometimes, people standing closeby will make a comment about my husband and how lucky he is that I'm buying him this case of beer, picking up the oil or replacing this hammer.

When Jeff first died, these comments hurt. They broke me. They reminded me, as if I needed it, that he was gone. Dead. And I was alone.

I felt hurt and angered at these people. I wanted to scream at them that they were not only sexist but insensitive and nosy. So I'd just simply say, "My husband is dead."

They'd stare at me in shock and search my face for signs of jest. I'd stare back with tears streaming down my face wishing they could understand and hating them for not.

Now, I actually find some form of morbid humour in shaming these people into submission. I find it amusing to watch the horror, embarassment and guilt cross their face. I know I shouldn't enjoy it. But it is kind of....funny.

I don't wear my black veil and dark clothing. I think my eyes have mostly lost their hollow depths. To anyone looking at me, I look like one of them. The 'normal' ones. The intact ones. The married ones. There are no markers to alert someone of the bomb that I carry around. The thing that most people don't want to talk about. Death. Grief. Mourning.

Many people shy from these topics. Steer around these landmines. Avoid discussion of this eventuality.

So when it enters a conversation so abruptly and without forewarning, it's sudden unexpected elephant in the room and no one knows how to remove it.

I find that use of this giant pachydrem to chase away masogynist and preconceived notions is endlessly entertaining.

"What did you do to upset your dog so much that he's on antidepressants? Ha ha ha"

"My husband died."

"Hey Sweetcheeks! Can I buy you a drink?"

"My husband died."

"I am sure your husband will be able to unplug the toilet with this snake in no time flat."

"My husband died."

Dropping the 'bomb' has its' uses and I am finding it so....perfectly perfect that Jeff is still providing laughter and protection to me in death. (Although I realize that this is most likely a cruel and immature way to get my kicks)... Honey, you the BOMB!


Suddenwidow said...

I love this post! I've done it myself, and only felt guilty for a nanosecond! Widow humour is so healing, but something really only appreciated by those of us in the club. I loved sharing widow humour with you in person! Looking forward to summer already, my dear widdow sister. The babysitters are booked (and no you won't be paying!). Lots of love to you, Deb

Anonymous said...

I think that if someone is going to be sexist and insensitive, then they might not always get the best responses. It's not like you're lying here. My husband is still alive, but those comments also irritate me no end. I imagine I would drop the 'bomb' if I were in your position.

Anonymous said...

Sexist and insensitive? How about just trying to be friendly and strike up a conversation? Good for you! Jeez. Do you still wear your wedding ring? Probably a reasonable assumption to make that you are married.

Jen said...

Ha! I've done this once or twice, and wanted to many more times. There's something about shaking up people's blind assumptions, however well-meaning they are, that is occasionally irresistible. "Can your husband help with child care?" I fantasize hearing from a co-worker when I bolt at 5:30. "I'm a widow", I would answer. Ka-boom!

Cadi said...

It is unfortunate that some shy away from grief. I was just recently told how it is "unseemingly" to process grief in a public forum. Hmmmm.

Grief is part of life. I'm not sure what makes people freaked out about it.