I have a boyfriend.
Weird right? That wasn’t in my game plan, but neither was Jesse getting internally decapitated.
Apparently, I don’t have as much control over my life as I used to think.
I didn’t intend on seeing anyone, but here I am. Especially after half a year.
Widows are given major shit, for two main reasons:
- That we somehow caused or contributed to our spouses death. I’m not making this up. It’s pretty common. (See “that bitch Carole Baskins”) and;
- That every one who isn’t a widow knows the appropriate date for us to begin dating again. Everyone is an expert except us, the ones actually dealing with it.
I believe that when someone dies those who don’t logically think out their emotions need to place their anger somewhere, so usually the wife is targeted. “She could have kept him home that day.” “She caused his stress.” “She could have… blah blah blah.” This is a common theme.
I have been accused of contributing to Jesse’s death, because that’s what predictable irrational people do.
But I’m not going to discuss prong 1 besides the small portion I just spoke about because anyone who thinks that is insane.
I didn’t think I’d ever be with anyone ever again. Not because I wanted to be a nun or a monk but because now I am this complex grief person and I felt like many people wouldn’t understand that. Also throw in a newborn and 3 more grieving kids. Also I never told Jesse bye. Yikes.
I started thinking of everything I would need from this next relationship. There were so many boxes to check that I literally laughed at myself and thought “yep this person isn’t out there,” but oh well. While I didn’t want to be alone forever, it’s not the worst thing thats ever happened to me so I shrugged my shoulders at it.
I’d have to find someone that was okay with a lot of things and this is kind of where my mind went:
- Letting me speak about Jesse as often or as little as I wanted.
- Wasn’t threatened by his photos in our house.
- Could understand the differences in my children’s grieving styles.
- Could handle 4 children.
- Understood I may want to publicly display my thoughts.
- Be stable.
- Not have any addiction issues.
- Not demean or belittle my feelings (i.e. likely someone that had lost someone too so they would “get it.”)
- Bonus points awarded if they knew Jesse.
- More points if they know the kids already.
- I am not a sports person. So i’d rather not date someone who wants to drag me to a basketball game every weekend.
- I am extremely blunt and don’t like passiveness.
- I need honesty. This one is one of my most important things.
- Was a clean person. I can’t be with someone who is messy.
- Treated me well.
Okay so maybe I needed a lot of things. I took all of Jesse’s positive qualities and then just added a ton more.
Those along with so many other things that I didn’t even mention here, you can see why the possibilities were so little. My most important boxes I wouldn’t negotiate. If the person didn’t have them I wasn’t going to deal with them. My minor boxes that I wanted checked, like: hey it would be cool if this person liked to dress up for Halloween with me, weren’t going to make it or break it, they were just extra. I was very amused with myself because the list was just so specific.
Widows do not want to “move on,” they want to “move forward,” as Nora McInery so famously put it. We want to take our person with us mentally. Not be forced to forget everything.
In the widow community, there are a decent amount of men that are jealous of the widow’s late husband. I did not want to deal with this but knew that there was a good chance I would. I didn’t see myself getting very lucky.
But I suppose I did.
Most of Jesse’s friends are married, but his one friend Scott isn’t. I’ve known Scott just as long as I’ve known Jesse. We all met at the same place 13 years ago. Jesse and Scott got along extremely well.
So well that we ended up knowing many people in his family. For Oraia’s first birthday Scott’s mom made her this amazing pumpkin cake that lit up and everything.
Jesse and one of Scott’s brothers ended up being friends too. From there I ended up being friends with his brother’s then girlfriend and am still close to her.
He is in the background of my children’s birthday party photos and I am in the background of his daughter Marina’s birthday party photos. The kids used to hunt for eggs together on Easter and swim at his house.
My family already knows him. His family already knows me. Just not in this capacity.
To me, this is really strange. My therapist says the reason its messing with me so badly is because I am a very well planned and organized person. I say something, I do it. I plan something, it goes through. I have an idea of what my life will be like.
Younger me said “find a husband, have as many kids as you can, own your house, be a lawyer, travel.”
That’s pretty much what I have done. So I have this false notion that I control things.
I don’t. Lol.
Jesse dying wasn’t in that 10 year plan. That really shocked me. Scott being my boyfriend wasn’t even…God that never crossed my mind. Ever. Nor did it cross his.
But so much has changed and we are also different now than 13 years ago.
Scott understands and supports everything I do or don’t do. Jesse’s things are Jesses. They are left alone. He doesn’t want to alter them. He doesn’t care if his photos are up. He talks to the kids about Jesse. He talks to me about Jesse. He talks to me if I’m sad. He’s not threatened, he’s supportive. That makes me like him more and helps me “heal.” He is not a stranger to us.
Scott unfortunately is well-versed in trauma too.
Scott’s nephew, Alex, drowned in a pool a few years ago. He was 2 and about the same age as Scott’s daughter at the time. Scott had to pull him out of the pool and give him CPR, but it was too late. It made me sick to my stomach when I heard what happened and it still does. No one should ever have to bury their baby. Scott says that it was the worst funeral he had ever been to.
Just a few years later his mother died of cancer when she was 52. She was an artist and a really strong woman. She raised 5 boys and I can barely handle my 1.
Then in 2019, his younger brother Caleb died in a motorcycle accident. He was 27 and his beautiful girlfriend was pregnant with his child he would never know. Although I feel like an anomaly, there are people out there like me and one of them is Scott’s sister-in-law.
Also throw into this a mentally unstable woman he used to have to deal with. She is still unwell unfortunately.
Needless to say, Scott gets me. I knew all of these things about him yet I never put the pieces together, that maybe we would work out? It never crossed my mind like that, but Scott checks every single box.
Jesse has only been gone for half a year so while it was a thought on my mind I was not actively looking for someone to be with. Half a year doesn’t sound like a long time.
But it is. I’ve had to process my sad emotions much quicker than any other family member because I lived with him.
While other family members love him, it’s possible they only would have seen him 10 times in the last 6 months. While as the children and I are on our 183 day where he doesn’t come home. Other family members maybe sent him a text message once a month, Jesse and I spoke all day for years.
It is only slammed in our faces. Everyone else gets to “ease into it.” I’ve had to tear off many band-aids since he was gone. And sending my first text to Scott was definitely a band-aid to rip. I literally closed my eyes and hit send.
Not to mention I fully immerse myself in my grief. I challenge myself with something every day. I talk about it all the time. Many people suppress these feelings but it delays any possible recovery. I don’t want to rot, so I do every textbook thing I am told to do, as good as I can.
By acknowledging Scott as my “Chapter 2” (cannot fucking stand this word its so cringe but the widow community loves it- its the person you are with after your husband dies and generally its more on the serious side), I am showing the world that:
YES JESSE REALLY IS DEAD WELCOME TO MY LIFE.
I do not get to hide. The kids do not get to hide. We don’t have a safe space. We have a fucked up space.
Rochelle being Scott’s girlfriend and no longer Jesse’s wife is hard to fucking write or see. It was a challenge for me to even change my relationship status. I literally went back and forth with it because Facebook doesn’t have a poly option. But Scott didn’t care and that’s what makes him so great. I can be myself.
I ultimately did it because Jesse is not coming back. Ever. There is no point in telling Scott “Hey society says I should wait 6 years to see you so just go do something while I appease these clueless people.” No.
It makes me sad in a way because in the widow community many widows DO date and they always talk about having to hide their person from the world. It is extremely upsetting that these people feel as though they cannot be themselves. I will not hide anything and I strongly encourage other widows to do the same.
Scott makes me as happy as I could be in my shitty situation, to try and take that from me because YOU are uncomfortable is wrong.
I know many of my friends will be supportive but I am kinda speaking on behalf of all widows when I say:
Fuck you to those who aren’t.
Simply put, it is so selfish to assume you are somehow the master of time of when a widow may appropriately date again. If a widow finds someone that gives her even a smidge of happiness, YOU NEED TO BE HAPPY FOR HER BECAUSE WE ALREADY DEALT WITH SO MUCH SHIT AND WE CANNOT CHANGE ANYTHING.
Widows are highly criticized when they do try to date and it’s kind of ridiculous. Do I think a widow should remarry the day after her husband dies? Well no, that screams co-dependency to me. But after a few months or whatever it may be.. we should be able to date if we can muster the courage to do so. I was so terrified and I am glad I just forced myself to do it, like I do all things.
Another aspect to this is how our relationship is unique. I already trust Scott. He already knows my “secrets” (again lose usage of that word because I pretty much tell everyone everything), he has seen me in an argument, he has heard Jesse complain about me. We get to skip all of that. It kind of makes me feel like we have been together longer than we actually have.
Jesse was my best friend and in some weird part of my brain I wish I could tell him all of these things. Just call him and say “dude you will not believe what happened.” But I can’t. Ever.
The last aspect to this that gets criticism is: is it weird that it is one of Jesse’s best friends?
Nope. A quick Google search you will actually see this is the most normal situation, which I find amazing.
I’m not saying I am marrying him tomorrow, but I am saying for now he is really great for me and hopefully it’s for a long time.
He has a dark sense of humor which I also have. We make our trauma funny together.
He said to me he thinks he will die around 50, so I will be widowed twice. Then he assured me “but this time you can prepare.”
And we both laughed.
Being with Scott doesn’t erase anything I’ve said about Jesse. I feel exactly the same about Jesse as I did a few months ago, there is just nothing I can do. No amount of sadness will bring him back. At least with Scott I get to be happy sometimes instead of just miserable 24/7.