Jim and I had a great sex life. Upon discharge from the hospital 3 days after emergency brain surgery, I pulled the surgeon aside to ask how long we had to wait before having sex. The doctor explained that with the portion of his brain that was cut out, Jim may never want to have sex again. I let him go on a while, and then I asked how long we needed to let the incision heal before we could have sex without worrying about popping the staples. With patience and pity in his eyes, he replied, “2 weeks.” We made it 10 days.
It’s not just the sex I miss. I miss being wanted. I miss feeling desirable. I miss the look on a river trip that says, “Let’s go find the grown-up beach”. I miss having a cancellation at work and calling Jim at school to tell him he forgot his lunch. I miss sneaking in after a late night of dancing, and having him wake up. I miss the shower door opening and having Jim say, “I like to watch”. I miss telling him he looked sexy in rubber gloves to get him to scrub the toilets. I miss lazy Saturday mornings of having a cup of coffee and then going back to bed. I miss falling asleep on the couch with my feet in his lap. I miss nature nookie. I miss the hand on my low back. I miss the play.
A good widow says that her late husband gave her enough love to last a lifetime. She lives vicariously through her children’s experiences and takes great pride in their accomplishments. She slowly takes on the chores and responsibilities that her husband did, and is stronger for her new-found skills. A good widow looks back with love and longing at her best years, and walks bravely into the future. A good widow does not crave sex. She certainly doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t burn out the batteries on her “toys”, and she doesn’t lose 4 pounds in a week just by thinking about sex. Apparently, I stink at being a good widow.
And this is really scary. I have been left splayed open by Jim’s death. I am raw to the touch, to kindness, to the sensuality of the world. I feel old and ugly, needy, and, gak….vulnerable. I wish I could put all of this safely back behind the brick wall where it has lived for the past 6 months. But it would be a façade. Spring is here, summer is coming, and this part of me is SOOOOOO not dead yet.
Moscow is a great place to live, a wonderful community. Having lived here this long, I have lots of friends and many of them are male. I have men to hike with, to ski with, to swim with, to dance with, to talk with, to drink with, to laugh with, to help me finish raising my son. I have friends that I can call, email or text at anytime. I even have friends that have offered to hold me while I cry myself to sleep….if only I was brave enough to do so. And yet, it is not enough.
So, what to do? I will do what I have always done. I will put on my big girl panties, and get on with my day. I will scream at my empty house, yet again, that I don’t know how to do this. I will, brick by brick, build the wall back up around my heart. I will take long walks in the moonlight, I will make myself eat oatmeal. For today, I will enjoy the flowers I bought myself and go see if I can figure out how to tune up my lawn mower.