I Am A Gen X Widow: Here Is Why I Will Never Date
The surprising reason why I can't let go.
Somewhere around year 2, and with increasing frequency by year 3 after I was widowed, friends and family started to ask me if I was dating. Frankly, it’s a horrible question to ask any bereaved woman, but for this Gen X widow, moving on is complicated.
I like to think that if people had any idea what I was going through, they wouldn’t ask. But those who haven’t lost a spouse don’t seem to understand that you don’t just fall out of love when your partner dies. Kevin and I were married for 25 years and dated for four years before that. Twenty-four months of grief doesn’t dull 29 years of love; it just dulls the world as I once knew it.
Never mind the fact I don’t even know how to date. I met Kevin when I was 23. Thirty-two years later, dating has changed dramatically. We ate apps in the '90s, we didn’t swipe them. Beauty standards have also changed. By year 25 of marriage, my personal grooming standards went about as low as they could go. Hair removal was optional, slippers were standard, and the Spanx went in the trash. So even if I wanted to date, I wouldn’t know what to shave, what shoes to wear or how to squeeze into the clothes in my closet.
But the real reason I won’t get involved with someone else is something surely any Xer should understand. Remember, we were the latchkey kids. We came home after school to empty houses, and we turned on the television (with a knob, not a remote, mind you) and for a few hours before we had to start homework or dinner, we escaped to Port Charles and Salem. That’s how we spent the days of our lives.
Soap operas served up a cautionary tale: Don’t let yourself fall for another man just to end up in a messy love triangle when your husband returns from the dead. After all, Roman Brady came back. John Black did too. So did Jack Deveraux and Jason Morgan and Robert Scorpio — just to name a few. When you’re raised on resurrection — the supercouple kind, not the Lord our savior kind — you can’t help but believe your deceased husband is coming back as well. This is why I cannot let go.
Therapists might say I have complicated grief and that I should seek counseling. But I think a better use of my time would be hanging out on the docks, because that’s the most probable place I will find Kevin. After all, that’s where John Black and Marlena Evans were reunited after she returned from the dead — the first time. The docks are also where Sam McCall and Jason Morgan reconnected. Of course, Sam thought they had already been reunited, but she was actually married to Drew, who had Jason’s memories implanted in him. However, my town doesn’t have docks, so that’s what’s complicated.
But Kevin and I do share something in common with all of these soap couples — a love so strong that it has endured many challenges and surely can survive death. On the day he died, I tried to take comfort in the fact Kevin always told me we were soulmates and therefore would always be connected, but the idea that I would never see him again left me literally gasping for breath and I thought I might actually die too. Eventually my sadness dulled into a sort of confusion; I just can’t understand a world without Kevin in it.
Because he wasn’t a superspy for the CIA (or was he?), it’s unlikely Kevin is being held in a cave on a remote island by an evil genius, but he could be, and so how can I ever stop waiting for him? I go grocery shopping and wonder if that man in the next checkout lane is him.
It doesn’t look anything like him, but maybe his captor performed facial reconstruction on him. I go out to dinner with friends and the waiter acts like he never met me but he is roughly the same height and build as Kevin. Maybe some villain stole his memory and has it hidden in a lab somewhere. I am alert at all times.
If he returns, with that familiar twinkle in his eye and scruffy smile on his face, I will be elated, but cautious. I will tug at that five-o’clock shadow to make sure he’s not someone else’s long-lost husband wearing a mask made to look like Kevin’s face. It happens.
My family is worried about me. They say I need to let my husband go and accept that he is dead and never coming back. It pains me to consider that option, but when the doctors said there was nothing more they could do for his cancer, Kevin did tell me I had his permission to someday remarry. Three years still feels too soon, but if and when the time feels right, I’ll pack my bags and move to Montana, or maybe Wyoming. After all, on the Hallmark Channel, widows always find their next true love on a ranch.
Anyone else have a hard time dating after losing a partner? Let us know in the comments below.